Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Kids in the Kitchen- Frustrating or Beneficial?

Have you ever wondered if involving your kids in the kitchen really makes a difference?  Let's face it.  The task can be quite frustrating.  Check out this testimonial from a former "kid-in-the-kitchen" turned Chef.  It just might change your mind.  

Some of my earliest memories center on being in the kitchen with my parents. I remember many things from childhood but nothing as strongly, nothing as vividly as I do memories of days spent cooking in our family home. The sights, the sounds, the smells and especially the tastes. I strongly believe that I would not be who I am or where I am as a chef if it were not for spending my formative years at my parents sides in the kitchen regularly.

It is not only highly important that children learn about the food that they eat and its purpose but also HOW to cook. Cooking is a fundamental life skill that has sadly been lost to some generations. The illusion of convenience that the fast food industry and even your local supermarket generates to sustain their billion dollar industries is in my humble opinion the culprit. Children are conditioned from an early age in our country to want the red and yellow packaging that hides nothing nutritious within. This is why it is time to get back to a time where cooking was not only a necessary part of life but one we enjoyed no matter our age.

I have instructed hundreds of children of all ages the basics of cooking and it is my experience that children are excited at the thought of participating in an adult activity. Being able to be hands on gives kids a true sense of what it takes to put food on the table and affords them a sense of ownership over the food that they eat. Being able to touch, see, smell, and taste the ingredients that they are cooking with is the best way to get them to try new foods. It is important that kids understand that in order to cook well you must first know what every ingredient is and how it tastes both cooked and raw. If we all took this approach with our kids from the very start there would be no opposition because they would never have the disadvantage of knowing any other way.

The next time that you are about to cook dinner ask the kids if they would like to help. Start with small tasks and work up to more complex ones. Remember to teach safety and explain to them everything you are doing from seasoning, to why you cut the vegetables all the same size. They’ll soak up all of your cooking knowledge and with a bit of practice before you know it you may just have a young chef on your hands.

- Chef Joe Crockett

Joe Crockett is the Chef for Healthy Kids, Inc.  In 2009 Joe worked alongside celebrity Chef Jamie Oliver on his Emmy award winning television series, “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution.” After the show wrapped and at the young age of twenty-one, Joe was given the position as chef at the kitchen Chef Oliver established in downtown Huntington where he remained until 2011.  Joe now devotes his time to Healthy Kids Inc while pursuing his bachelors degree.  Check out the Chef in action at www.healthykidsinc.com

1 comment:

  1. What a terrific article! I have a 3 year old, and she loves to help in the kitchen. Due to her father's frequent vegetable prep, she is an avid fan of raw carrots and just about anything else she can nosh on that goes "crunch." Early childhood is such a great time to get kids connected to the pleasure and satisfaction of "real food" and food prep.


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