MADISON –Joyce Giffin founded “It’s Thyme to Cook” so all ages, but children in particular, can learn skills to prepare great meals.

“My experience as a teacher in South Florida for 23 years prepared me well to offer this culinary home school in Madison,” Giffin said. “Most of my public school teaching was in a vocational technical education center teaching commercial foods and culinary arts and in a high school magnet’s culinary arts program.”

Similar to Bob Jones High School’s culinary curriculum, these programs focused on skills for students to enter the foods service industry with certificates or advance to culinary schools. Giffin’s students catered for community events, school board, county commission and even a visit from the governor, along with daily lunch for the tech center’s students and faculty.

Giffin views Madison as the perfect place for a small business like It’s Thyme to Cook “because its demographics include a large number of young, educated families, as well as singles and retirees who are forward-thinking and seek opportunities for new experiences.”

No one else in the area offers a similar service, Giffin said. She started her locally owned business in 2012.

Giffin earned a master’s degree in vocational home economics. Each summer, her school district in Palm Beach County, Florida provided hands-on teacher in-service in conjunction with Florida Restaurant Association at Johnson and Wales University in Miami and Lincoln Culinary in West Palm Beach.

It’s Thyme to Cook offers only hands-on classes to both adults and children of all skill levels and is licensed as a home school by the county. A typical class lasts about three hours with eight participants maximum. Giffin conducts adult classes on a per-request basis and can meet the group’s interests or a specific curriculum.

It’s Thyme to Cook does not sell any merchandise and is not licensed for catering.

“The reception to It’s Thyme to Cook in Madison has been very positive,” Giffin said. “People are very pleased to find my website. I’ve experienced great word-of-mouth exposure. Especially with their competitive cooking shows, food networks have created an enthusiastic audience for learning culinary skills, even among children and teens.”

Clients return for additional classes, especially summer camp. “Campers return multiple years and look forward to moving up from ‘Kids Culinary Camp’ to ‘Teen Culinary Camp’ and bring their friends,” Giffin said.

Giffin receives thank-you notes from the youth, who create cards to tell her how much fun they had at camp. This spring, she opened camp registration on her website on March 1 and all sessions were booked within a few weeks.

In 2011, the Giffins moved to Madison for retirement. “I grew up just across the state line in Taft, Tennessee, and we have owned property here for many years,” she said.

“I wanted to continue my love of teaching culinary to stay busy in retirement, so I researched the requirements for a home business and designed a kitchen area for our house that my husband built for us. He jokes that he built the house around the kitchen,” she said.

For more information, call 256-527-2168, email info@itsthymetocook or visit (especially the “Classes,” “Summer Camp” and “About” tabs) or Facebook/It’s Thyme to Cook.