Cooking with Kids: Training Your Master Chef or Lessons Beyond Your Kitchen
So your child wants to cook- or you want to teach them how. By now you probably introduced them to the kitchen basics, if not, read this first. Then you’ve moved onto the Intermediate Level of tackling recipes. You can read about that here. For most children (and adults), that is all you will need in life, but for others, you’ve just cracked open a door to a whole new world of flavor, textures, techniques. These are the Epicureans or Foodies, and you need to approach them in a whole different light.
You will know your child is an Epicurean if they start adding ingredients to dishes- to make it taste better. You will know your child is an Epicurean if they begin to browse through cookbooks in their spare time. You know your child is an Epicurean if they watch cooking shows on television, and are serious about them.
Now that you have decided whether a foodie lives under the roof, it’s time to take their Cooking Skills to a whole new level: The Master Chef. My husband would now point out that there are only a handful of true Master Chefs in the world, and the rest are Master Chefs in Training, but let us not get too technical here. The Master Level is serious business. And this training takes place beyond your kitchen.
You could always hire a personal chef to teach your child the tips and tricks of the masters, but that tends to be impractical for the average family, however, there are Chef Camps (yes, there IS a camp for everything), to get your little one further educated. Cooking Workshops and Demonstrations are always a good & cheaper option than a camp, and if all else fails, break open the YouTube for how-to videos. My husband added some really good Quick Tip segments into his own cooking show (PBS), The Chef’s Table, which are good for adults and kids alike. The tricks and tips are what can turn good cooks into great chefs. And talent, of course. Lots of talent, persistence and hard work.
You can start edging into The Master Level at home by encouraging your child to partake in Cooking Competitions. I’m not talking those cut-throat shows of Food Network fame (not yet, at least), but more local. Try your County Fair. There they enter their food into set categories and get judged. They tend to be kinder at the local level, which is good for a newbie. From there you can expand to State Fairs and Regional Cooking Contests. In our region, my husband was the chef involved in our county’s Eat Right Kids Cooking Contest, where the winners were chosen for an annual Children’s Cookbook. The Florida Department of Agriculture (Fresh From Florida) partnered with Publix is currently holding a Student Cook-Off. Check out the details here.
With the kitchen at your command, who knows, your little one MAY end up cooking alongside the likes of Emeril or maybe even Chef Ferdinand Metz and Chef Jacquy Pfeiffer!