Get your family cooking together

October 9, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
You'd be amazed at what can actually happen when you encourage your children to get in the kitchen. Nancy Longo caught up with a new Bay Area cooking school that's on a mission to get families cooking together again.

Tips on how to get your family cooking together:

Why cooking with family is important:

  • Creates a healthy food culture in which kids aren't looking at food as a fast convenience
  • Kids are more likely to try healthy/new/exotic foods if they help prepare it
  • Great family bonding time
  • Teaches and gives kids responsibility
  • Reinforces lessons learned in school: math with measurement; social studies with world cuisine
  • Great for parents because soon your kids will be kicking you out of the kitchen and cooking for you!

    How do you get your family cooking together?

  • Give them real responsibility-kids can do what adults can.
  • Choose recipes that have multiple components so more than 1 cook can be in the kitchen
  • Make presentation part of the meal-You eat with your eyes first.

    Top 10 professional chef tips for teen cooks
    By Chef Rachelle Boucher

    1. Plan your menu. Choose your recipes and themes based on the season, the number of guests you have coming, and what food you already have on hand. Keep it simple; try making your menu and then removing one item. Easy!
    2. Plan your timing and team. Can you make some items ahead of time? Who can help you shop and cook? Who can help with table setting?
    3. Budget and Shop. Try to estimate the amount of food you will need. Use our Planning Sheet to create a shopping list and try to keep to your budget. Be flexible with your menu plan. Also, remember, most beginning chefs greatly over estimate how much food to make.
    4. Dress for success! I love the ritual of changing into my chef's outfit. Be sure to have good shoes on for cooking and a nice clean apron. Tie up you hair if it is long to make cooking easier and safer.
    5. Love that hand washing! Students ask me all the time, "Can I wash my hands? "Wash away! Always wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 30 seconds.
    6. Clean as you go! The best chefs in the world are the cleanest; keeping the kitchen clean gives us a sense of pride. Be sure you empty the dishwasher if you have one, and clear out the sink area so you can wash as you go. I set a goal of having all dishes washed, except for the last pots and pans before I sit down to eat. Who wants to get up from a great meal to deal with a messy kitchen?
    7. Knife Safety! Our students learn to honor and care for knives. Make sure you have an adult mentor to teach you about handling knives. First, be sure your cutting board is anchored to the table. Take a clean kitchen towel, wet half of it and place the wet half flat under your board with the dry half hanging out in front of you. Place your board on top. This keeps your board flat and gives you a dry towel to keep your hands, board and knife dry for safe cutting. Never put a sharp knife in the sink or dishwasher! It can get covered by soap or dishes and stab someone. Wash knives by hand or have someone do it for you.
    8. Hot food hot, cold food cold! We learn all about food safety at our classes, but the main thing is keeping foods out of the scary sounding "danger zone" of 41°F to 135°F where bacteria thrive. All that means for you at home is "Hot food hot, cold food cold!" Simple!
    9. Taste it all! Sometimes we hear "I don't like this, I don't eat that, blah, blah, blah?" We say, try it all! How can you be chef-like if you don't try everything! Just a bit won't hurt. Except for health considerations or religious beliefs, of course!
    10. Allow others to help. Be sure to invite parents, siblings and guests to share in your kitchen adventures! Oh, and have fun!
    Upcoming Classes:
    Fall Youth Camps
    Saturdays 10/25-11/15

    Family Workshops:
    Sun. 10/12
    Sun 10/26

    For more class and workshop information: www.operationchef.com


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