A South Bay mom is elevating kids’ palates … one box at a time

Signed. Sealed. Delicious.

CEO Samantha Barnes and her kids, Beckett and Ceci, in the kitchen

As a middle school teacher in Calabasas, Samantha Barnes was growing frustrated with the choices she saw students making day in and day out when it came to their meals and snacks. She could see they desperately needed food education that they weren’t getting at home … or at school. So she decided to do something about it.

Samantha started a mobile culinary school, offering classes in nearly 50 schools as well as in-home parties. To take culinary education a step further and put it in the hands of parents, she opened Raddish in 2014 as a monthly cooking club for kids ages 4 to 14.

Subscribers sign up to receive a box in the mail each month with recipes including step-by-step instructions, grocery lists, an apron patch and kid-friendly kitchen tools. The kits also include Table Talk conversation starters to involve everyone at the table.

“Everything we do is focused on food and family,” Samantha says of her Redondo Beach-based business, which has been featured in Better Homes & Gardens, Parents magazine, the LA Times and TODAY. “We believe that the kitchen is the best place to learn and connect.”

Samantha and her team think of themselves as an education company—not only teaching culinary skills but also geography, world culture, history, science and math. In fact, Samantha uses her curriculum-designing skills when creating the cross-disciplinary Raddish kits, which feature monthly themes like “Taste of India” or “Tropical Luau.” The business also hosts a kids summer cooking camp, Camp Raddish, in Hermosa Beach.

We recently checked in with this South Bay resident, who lives with her husband, Seth, head of Raddish’s marketing team, and her kids: daughter Ceci, 9, and son Beckett, 7. We asked her about living—and running a kid-friendly business—in southern California.

When did you move to the South Bay?

My husband and I moved to L.A. 13 years ago from Boston. We fell in love with the South Bay and have lived here for 10 years. I still find myself in awe of our wide beaches and endless sunshine. I love the family-friendly spirit that our community is built upon. We may live in L.A., but it still feels small-town. I know I’ll see friends wherever I go.

What are your favorite local places to eat?

The Point, Wahoo’s, Rock ‘n Brews and Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong in Torrance. Both my kids had their 1-week-old birthday at Uncle Bill’s and still love their blueberry pancakes. For date night, my husband and I love Hook and Plow and happy hour at Dia del Campo. When the weather is warm, dinner on the beach is our all-time favorite place to eat!

What does your family do together for fun?

Our kids are involved in a lot of sports and theatre, but on the occasional quiet Saturday we love taking our dog for a hike in Palos Verdes or combing the tidepools at Abalone Cove (always stopping at Graeter’s ice cream after!) We all love going to the family-friendly Strand Brewery for a beer (ginger beer for the kids!) and to play games. It’s also fun to discover a new foodie adventure somewhere in L.A. We travel a lot to visit family who live back East and in Park City, Utah.

What do you like to cook at home?

I’ve changed a lot as a cook since having a family that needs to be fed seven days a week. Now I am a diligent meal planner instead of a “what looks good at the store” after-work shopper. Some of our favorite (and efficient!) weekday meals are risotto, soups and chilis, homemade pizza, and lemon chicken and veggies on the grill.

Your mom owned a boutique cookware store when you were little, so you came by your kitchen passion naturally. How are you passing that passion on to your children?

My kids love helping me cook! My daughter is our family’s official salad dressing-maker, and my son loves making and eating pesto pasta. They love helping on weekend mornings with muffins, waffles and pancakes.

What are some of your favorite things to pack for school lunch?

Crackers with salami and cheese, yogurt with frozen blueberries, avocado sandwiches, veggies with tzatziki or hummus, almond butter and bananas, TJ’s mini tortellini with peas.

How do you teach social responsibility?

We talk openly about with our kids about injustice, gratitude and charity. During the recent election we took our kids canvassing door-to-door. I volunteer with Haven Academy of the Arts in El Segundo, St. Cross Episcopal Church in Hermosa and Da Vinci Connect, where our children attend school. My husband coaches sports and is on the board of South Bay Pony baseball. Raddish is a proud supporter of Habitat for Humanity and the American Heart Association.

Tell us about Camp Raddish.

Our summer camp is delicious, and the most innovative cooking camp you’ll find! Kids learn kitchen skills from our passionate culinary coaches, and they collaborate to create and execute their own restaurant. Our campers love cooking—and eating—recipes from around the world, and parents love celebrating their kids’ success during Friday’s restaurant opening! This summer marks our 11th summer of inspiring kids in the kitchen, and registration for summer 2019 is open at raddishkids.com/camp.