Tessy Medley had spent her career in finance. But for years, the mom and grandma had dreamed of running her own business, one that would make an impact on the lives of young people.
Classy Kids Cook offers cooking camps, classes, programs for homeschoolers and birthday parties. Kids as young as age 3 can participate in mommy and me classes, which sound really cute. Medley also offers etiquette instruction. Kids learn not only how to eat properly and which fork to use, but about integrity and how to be a person of their word, she said.
"I've always worked with kids in youth ministry for 20-plus years," said Medley, who attends Colonial Baptist Church in Cary. "I had been mentoring some young girls and listening how all the peer pressure they have at school and just the different choices they have to make everyday to make the right decisions. And I thought, 'Gosh, if I could have an environment where they can succeed, even in a recipe, and help them build their self esteem so they can understand they don't have to go along with the crowd.'"
Medley, mom to one son and grandma to four girls, told me she's always enjoyed cooking. Her mom taught her. When she started the business in 2006, she planned to go to culinary school to hone her own skills. She never really made it.
The business took off, quickly outgrowing her Garner home. She and husband Mitch moved to a new home in Cary so they'd have more room for their business. But it outgrew that space nine months later. The couple opened at their current location at High House and NW Maynard roads in July 2008.
Medley said the business has grown bigger than she ever imagined. She and her husband have trademarked the name and are talking to lawyers about franchising. And she now has five chefs who work for her. All have graduated from culinary school.
"They're just phenomenal women who love kids, who love to cook and love teaching, Medley told me. "We've been very blessed. We have a really great team who work well together. They know the focus is always too the children. The food is the way to build relationships with them."