Chef Toni's Adventures

Help keep Chef Toni's high-touch cooking program for kids afloat during the coronavirus crisis!
This program has made such a difference for my son, Jeremy (the tall handsome guy with the locs on the far left), that I want to make sure it is around for other kids in the future.  In fact, it was Jeremy, now 16 years old, who cooked up (pun intended!) the idea of this GoFundMe campaign.  Chef Toni will prepare a special treat for friends who contribute $500 or more once her kitchen is up and running again.   

Chef Toni--Antoinette Willard--is a talented and charming chef who has been mentoring young aspiring chefs for decades.  A native of South Africa and the product of a then-illegal union between a white British officer and a young Black South African woman, she came to the U.S. on her own at the age of 15 and has faced many hurdles in her life and career.  Chef Toni was the first to bring cooking classes to kids on the Upper West Side back in 2012 and since then brought her business to Harlem and now Hamilton Heights.  Chef Toni says that CTCA has had its share of changes but the biggest change has been the shut down of the school due to COVID-19. With many parents wondering when she will reopen, she is in desperate need of re-branding and funding to pivot her services online and safely be able to conduct in-person classes again when it is safe. She has been unsuccessful in securing government assistance or support, so this GoFundMe campaign is her only chance to keep CTCA alive.  

While most cooking programs for kids are like painting-by-numbers, Chef Toni’s Adventures is fine art.  She entrusts her students with the flexibility to bring their own creativity to their cooking, inspiring them to express themselves.  “These are the kinds of experiences that have given three of my students the confidence to audition and compete on national television for shows such as Master Chef Jr., Top Chef, Jr., and Chopped Jr. For that, I am overjoyed.”  Chef Toni teaches classes for children as young as eight through her Master Classes for teens who are serious about the culinary arts. "Chef Toni's Kitchen" kids cook, eat, and play. Kids learn not only TO cook, but also about proper kitchen etiquette.  She is famous for her mystery basket challenges structure along with classes and private, small groups & small birthday parties. 

Chef Toni has had a tremendous, positive influence on my son, Jeremy, a smart, sweet, funny and creative young man.  Because of dyslexia and related learning issues, academics were challenging to him.  In addition to finding his amazing cooking talent, Jeremy developed confidence and skills through Chef Toni's program, qualities that have now spilled over into school and life.  He interned with Chef Toni last summer helping with the younger kids as a counselor in training.  It is too soon to say for sure that this will be his career, but it is certainly a possibility.  He had been poised to get an internship in a restaurant this summer through Chef Toni.  He is 16 and that can wait for next summer but, summer but, unfortunately, Chef Toni's rent and other expenses cannot wait.  These are the immediate funding needs:

A computer and filming equipment is first and foremost for Zoom.

Transitioning her space into new production headquarters for filming virtual classes and safely implement social distancing for private and small group after-school classes when possible.  Her current location does not allow for proper social distancing requirements.

Food expenses, educational materials for teaching online, etc.   

Facebook/Instagram advertising costs.  (Volunteers and interns help with marketing.)

A chef's assistant. 

Business operation costs.  

Chef Toni is in the process of pivoting services to online and virtual and has done a few test runs. With your help, once the campaign is complete she will be able to be back up and running in about 30 days and says she will keep us updated every step of the way.

Please help keep Chef Toni's business afloat during these next critical months so that she can transition to virtual teaching and reopen her business in person when it is safe to do so.  Help make sure that the opportunities that Jeremy and so many other kids have had will be available to other kids.  We will be so grateful for your help!  And remember the special treat Chef Toni will cook up for those who donate $500 or more.  
  • Pamela Rennick 
    • $200 
    • 9 mos
  • Joy Masseaux 
    • $300 
    • 10 mos
  • Holly Gregory 
    • $150 
    • 10 mos
  • Verushka Wray 
    • $100 
    • 10 mos
  • Damon Phillips 
    • $100 
    • 10 mos
See all

Organizer and beneficiary

Dolores Swirin-Yao 
New York, NY
Antoinette Willard 
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