DEARBORN— At 16-years-old, Zee Shami predicted something huge would change her life forever once she turned 30.
She didn’t know what it would be at the time, but in the autumn of 2015, at age 30, she established ZeeTheCook, LLC, offering cooking classes in her kitchen.
She recalled reflecting on the irony.
“When 30 came, I looked at my life and I said, ‘Oh, how funny; when I was younger, I used to always say ‘when I am 30 something is going to happen.’ And nothing happened,” she said. “But in the fall of that age, ZeeTheCook began.”
Shami, now 32, launched an Instagram page in late 2012, posting regular photos of food she’d cook in her kitchen. Many followers persistently requested her recipes. However, she does not measure when she cooks, so she had trouble writing her recipes down on paper.
As she gained additional followers, and with them more requests, she realized her recipes were in high demand and her only option was to teach hands-on.
“It came to that point where everything stopped in that moment and I said, ‘I’m going to teach this in person,’” she said. ‘I’m going to show people my technique, the way that I cook, not just what the recipe is.’”
She’d originally intended to teach adults, but after hearing parents say that their children would enjoy her classes, she had to give it a try.
“The beginning was all trial and error,” she said. “When I realized how happy the kids were each time, I couldn’t let this thing go.”
Shami offers cooking and etiquette classes for kids, family events, field trips and private birthday events.
“I started to challenge myself,” she said. “I thought, ‘What more can I do to improve relationships in our community?’ I started to feel that it would be nice if the family did something together that would help them have a team bonding experience, so I implemented family events into my classes once a month.”
All kids are taught first the safety and are tested on it.
Once we are confident that they know what they are doing, we allow them in the kitchen.
Last month, Shami and her team organized an event at Dearborn’s La Fork, where parents made crepes and built gingerbread houses with their children.
As for field trips, ZeeTheCook, LLC takes children on supermarket adventures, where they learn about new fruits and vegetables and bake their own goods inside the bakeries.
“We went to Dearborn Fresh this year,” Shami said. “Last year, we went to both Dearborn Fresh and Super Greenland and our next trip is to Kroger in the springtime. We’re going to be taking over their bakery department to bake cupcakes and cookies.”
Other than that, Shami said she executes birthday parties for children based on a child’s theme and food choice.
Also, she clarified that kids have to go through a safety workshop and a test before entering the kitchen.
“Every new student starts in the workshop before they ever make it to the kitchen,” she explained. “They are taught the safety and are tested on it. Once we are confident that they know what they are doing, we allow them in the kitchen.”
Shami plans on opening up her own location in Dearborn Heights in the spring, where she will cater to students of all ages.
She said she believes her classes have broken the stigma that steers boys away from the kitchen.
“The boys enjoy our classes more than the girls,” she said. “The reason I feel they do is because in many cultures, boys aren’t always introduced to this. They kind of try to lead the boys away from these things. Once they have a chance to expand their creativity and their mind in the kitchen, it’s just so exciting for them that someone is allowing them to do that.”
Shami has a team of seven assistants, consisting of a certified health dietician, two teacher’s aides licensed in child and family counseling, a pastry chef, an administrative assistant and others who supervise the 15 students in each class and aim to create a safe and happy environment.
She said it doesn’t feel like she’s been working since she started.
“What I do is not a business,” Shami said. “It’s a passion. I do it from my heart and feeling my students’ excitement is what makes any challenge so worth it. I don’t work a day in my life.”
Leave a Reply