Perhaps I’m a little late to the game here, but I’ve recently discovered the wonders of MasterChef Junior; a cooking show which features home chefs exclusively ranging from the ages of eight to twelve.
I’ve begun watching for hours on end with bated breath, hoping that one of them doesn’t accidentally slice off a miniature finger. These kids aren’t just amazing chefs, they’re also extraordinarily empathetic, articulate, clever, and adorable. I love them. Each and every one.
This got me thinking about my culinary education, and at what age I started joining my mom at our butcher block and assisting her. Some of my most vivid memories of cooking together at a young age are from when we hunkered down in the kitchen for hours of Holiday treat production. We made candy and chocolate truffles for my teachers, or homemade pasta which we dried, packaged, labelled, and sent to family.
Sure, it can seem a little scary or irresponsible to give a kid a knife and say “Mince this garlic for me,” but there are plenty of ways to get youngsters involved in the kitchen that won’t end in bloodshed.
Let them help measure, pour, and mix ingredients for pies and cookies. Have them taste your sauces for seasoning, and suggest what flavors they might be lacking. Or, better yet, let their imaginations run wild: ask them to conceptualize a dish and help them to accomplish it!
And, if they say that they’d like to make marshmallows mixed with bacon covered in ranch dressing, bite the bullet and do it because they’ll learn from their mistakes. You might be grooming the world’s next Gordon Ramsay, or, if you’re a little luckier, the world’s next me.
Featured photo courtesy of Coqui the Chef.