Meet Our Founder
Welcome to Kidz Can Cook! Our founder, Donna Jacobs, is excited to share her love of cooking with you and your family. Donna grew up in a large Italian family where food was central to all occasions. Her childhood revolved around food and her work experiences also revolved around, you guessed it, FOOD! Over the years, Donna has had the opportunity to work, meet, and sample the flavors of many great cooks and chefs worldwide.
Prior to starting Kidz Can Cook, Donna worked as the Director of Marketing and Advertising for Sun-Rich International, an International Gourmet Food company. In her role, she traveled to places like Mauritius, Africa, where she learned how to harvest Fleur de Sel from the Indian Ocean and enjoyed delicacies like Pate de fruits and Litchi Jam from Les Vergers de LaBourdonnais. She also worked alongside Chef Dominique Macquet from New Orleans at the New York Fancy Food Show to showcase Sun-Rich International’s wonderful flavors from abroad.
When the recession of 2008-2009 hit, the company folded. Donna found herself at home, which was challenging for a driven woman used to continuous work and travel. Looking out the window, it was hard not to notice the steady stream of food delivery vehicles on the block every afternoon and evening. Curiosity led her to talk with her neighbors about their cooking habits, or in some cases, their ordering habits. She learned many families had limited kitchen skill sets or lacked the time, patience and energy to cook. With 20 kids under the age of 12 on the block, Donna decided she needed to do something to help parents pass on a life skill to their kids. That weekend, she loaded up the truck and took a group of kids out to the Apple Orchard to pick apples. When they arrived home to her kitchen, she taught them how to make delicious apples pies. They rolled out their own pie crusts and learned how to wash, peel, pare and cut apples. They had a blast and learned about cooking measurements, knife skills, baking techniques and most of all, gained confidence in the kitchen.
Donna says she will never forget the excitement on each child’s face as they watched their pies bake in the oven, and the pride when they each brought their finished pie home. She knew she had found her calling. From there, she built out lesson plans for themed classics across a range of ages and experience levels. Many years and thousands of cooking “graduates” later, her passion has continued to grow with each student she takes under her wing.
Donna has been very involved in the Norwood Park community for many years as a Girl Scout Leader, Athletic Committee Member, Room Parent, School Board Member and has spent over 11 years teaching cooking to children. In all of her roles, she has always found a way to combine her love of children and teaching with her passion for preparing and sharing great food.
Donna resides in Chicago’s Norwood Park neighborhood with her husband Dan, their children Vanessa and Danny, and an adorable puppy named Louie.