Owner, The Kiddie Kitchen
Owner, The Kiddie Kitchen
Chef Neena Perez is the proud owner of The Kiddie Kitchen in Norwalk. She launched The Kiddie Kitchen in 2007 because she believes that spending quality time with children is essential to their future. Based in Norwalk, with kitchens in New Canaan, it teaches cooking techniques to adults and children in Fairfield and Westchester Counties. It also offers a summer camp, children’s cooking parties, adult cooking lessons and catering services.
Her path to success took many turns. An abused child living in Stamford, she became pregnant with her first child at 14. Determined, she graduated from High School but couldn’t attend college. Living in a battered women shelter with her son, she started working as a medical assistant and continued with that for 15 years. She never gave up on her dreams though. In 2007, she decided to quit to attend Norwalk Community College and was introduced to the Women’s Business Development Council. She started with a Women’s Business Development Council class on how to build a business plan and the steps needed to be an entrepreneur.
“I thought I had a great idea and I could just go do it, right? NOT! The Women’s Business Development Council gave me the tools and resources to understand my financial implications and build a business plan. The classes showed me how to proceed so that my business wasn’t just a hobby, but a success. I looked forward to attending each week, meeting other entrepreneurs, gaining support, knowledge and a little touch of love,” said Neena Perez.
She faced more challenges though. While she was studying at Norwalk Community College in 2009, she, her husband and her children became homeless. But she didn’t let that stop her. She was able to keep attending school and take classes offered by the Women’s Business Development Council because of their scholarships.
As a result of networking in the Women’s Business Development Council classes, Perez started doing kids cooking classes at Rowayton Elementary and the Boys and Girls Club. She was able to gain widespread media exposure in Connecticut, helping to launch her business.
“The Women’s Business Development Council educated me on what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur. It exposed me to incredible women of all backgrounds and education levels,” said Perez. “One of the most important takeaways from my experience with them was developing my own self-confidence and belief in myself, the single biggest barrier to personal and entrepreneurial success for women regardless of socio economic background.”
Neena proudly reports that she also received her culinary certificate and associate’s degree from Norwalk Community College and a bachelor's degree in Culinary and Hospitality Management from Monroe College. She also currently works as the Executive Chef and Manager of the Commons at New Canaan’s Grace Farms.
For more information on the Kiddie Kitchen visit www.thekiddiekitchen.com.