Spotlight on Franchisees
 min read

Making the “Best Job in the World” Her New Business

Read about Lucy Warenski’s journey from being a Montessori teacher to the owner of a Sticky Fingers Cooking franchise.

Lucy Warenski’s life path is like a series of carefully placed stepping stones, each one leading to the next logically and to something fabulous. This is important to know because out of some highlights that include studying abroad in Italy, graduating magna cum laude from college with a double major, and having a successful career in education, she describes being a chef instructor at Sticky Fingers cooking as, “my favorite job I had ever.”

After graduating from Creighton University in Omaha, magna cum laude with a double major in Theology with a focus on Social Justice and Music, Lucy became a certified Montessori Directress. During her sophomore year of college, she studied abroad in Florence, Italy, which she describes as, “one of the most formative experiences of my life.” The founder of the Montessori teaching method, Maria Montessori, was from Italy. 

Finding Her True Calling in Denver

Lucy, 41, and her husband, Mike, moved from Illinois to Denver in 2010 where she continued teaching at a local Montessori school. Around this time, Lucy also began to work as a private chef. She heard about Sticky Fingers Cooking, which was founded in Denver by fellow mom, Erin Fletter. 

“I was one of the first chef instructors for the company and I remember coming home after my first day teaching and I said to Mike, ‘this is the best job IN THE WORLD!’,” Lucy recalls. “It combined my two great passions: cooking and kids.”

lucy warenski celebrating her birthday

When the couple had their first son, Josh, they decided to move back to the Chicagoland area to be closer to family. This led to an opportunity to expand Sticky Fingers Cooking to Illinois.

Erin Fletter, Co-founder and CEO of Sticky Fingers Cooking, remembers this moment of change for the company too. “If anyone could make the company a standout in a new state, it would be Lucy and I had full confidence in her completely,” she says. 

Lucy was nervous but ready to make a go of it. 

“Neither of us knew what would happen, but we were excited for the expansion and the challenge ahead,” Lucy says of this big change for her and the company, which had not started franchising yet. “Sticky Fingers Cooking Chicagoland was the first off-shoot of the headquarters.”

Stepping into a Franchise

For 10 years, Lucy had success running the Sticky Fingers Cooking location in Illinois. 

“I started here with one school, Walker Elementary in Evanston in the fall of 2013 and ten years later we are still in that school!,” she says. “We currently teach in about 130 schools and park districts each week. We have a team of over 50 fabulous Chef Instructors who I am eternally grateful for—they are the best of the best!”

When the company announced the decision to franchise, Lucy knew she was ready to take her passion to the next level. 

“Sticky Fingers Cooking has brought me more joy than I ever thought possible,” Lucy gushes. “To me, it isn’t a job, so to speak, but what brings me purpose every single day. I love that not only are we introducing new and exciting ingredients to children, but we are connecting the story of food and culture to hundreds of children each day. As a former teacher, there is nothing more important than helping to instill self-confidence in a child.”

lucy warneski and family

She adds, “It is with that self-confidence that children feel that they CAN do it, they can conquer challenges, that they see themselves as worthy, capable and valued.”

Speaking of self-confidence, Lucy seems to have an abundance of it herself and it shows with everyone she works with giving them confidence in her! “For the same reasons that we knew Lucy would be able to successfully grow the company in Illinois, we have no doubts she will be an outstanding business owner in her own right,” says Erin. 

For Lucy, this wasn’t a question, it was the logical next step. “To buy what I have built wasn’t even a question in my mind,” she says. “Sticky Fingers Cooking is as much part of me as my family and closest friends.”

Lucy bought TWO franchise territories to start her journey as a business owner.

This teacher turned chef instructor turned business owner plans to keep motivating kids through cooking. “My hope is to inspire a new generation of children to explore the world and its food, to be brave, to be kind, to be gentle with themselves and the earth, to be confident, to be empathetic, to lead,” she concludes. 

So today with two busy boys—Josh and Owen—and two dogs—black English labs, Pax and Dublin—and her husband, Mike, of 14 years and counting, it seems there is nothing to stop Lucy from being a successful franchisee and business owner.

Lucy’s favorite Sticky Fingers Cooking recipe: it was just a flavor bomb and I loved that my kiddos at Highland Park Montessori (3-6 year olds) just gobbled it all up: Fabulous Five-Ingredient Filipino Eggplant “Adobo” + Fantastic Filipino Fried Rice + Island Fruit Flips

If you’re interested in turning your passion for teaching or cooking into a business, learn more about our franchise opportunity today.

sticky fingers cooking happy chef graphic
Sticky Fingers Cooking
Verified writer
girl in a sticky fingers cooking after-school class


Of schools invite us back year after year


Google reviews
be a part of a successful, proven business model

Is a Sticky Fingers Cooking® franchise right for you?

Enter your info below to receive our free Franchisee Guide!

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.