For the last eight years I facilitated cooking demonstrations for many different groups. By far one of my favorite groups to cook with is young people. They have a great combination of enthusiasm, curiosity, and honesty. If can share foods in their natural state and show how food starts with individual ingredients, herbs and spices and allow them to taste them during the steps their willingness to try new foods increases. This summer I had the opportunity to work with junior high school and high school students. My only request for any cooking class is for each person try what we make. I make it very clear they do not have to like it, but they must at least take a taste. Everyone agreed and we got started. Since we didn’t have access to an oven or stove we created a menu that didn’t require any heating elements. We made a salad, salsa, guacamole, black bean salsa, rotisserie chicken burritos, parfaits, and smoothies for dessert. These were not unfamiliar foods, they had been to Chipotles so they had seen or tasted burritos before. The overall experience was good! Some kids loved our creations other didn’t, but everyone learned something. Of course everyone loved the healthy desserts and smoothies. Another wonderful side benefit of cooking with kids in the kitchen is that it can build their confidence in completing projects. They get to take ownership of the food and they are excited to share their finished project with you. The students were so impressed with themselves when they saw the spread of food that we created together.
The great thing about cooking with children is that you can start with whatever you like baking, grilling, cooking, or desserts. You can start with young children allowing them to pour or dump foods out of measuring cups. As they get older they can decorate, dress, and mix foods for you. As they get more skilled you can have them cut or chop. Responsible tweens and teens can start with supervised stove and oven work and perhaps work to create meals on their own.
Dr. Daemon Jones
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