Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Welcoming Kids into the Kitchen

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Welcoming Kids into the Kitchen

Article excerpt

IT'S 11 a.m. at Michela's restaurant, where 17 parents and 20 children have gathered for some Saturday-morning fun. But this group is not here for table talk and ordinary holiday cheer: They came to cook.

Donning white aprons, the tall and the small scuttle into the kitchen. It's a haven for kids: Here, flour is supposed to fly, you're allowed to get messy, and you can play with all the dough you want. It's a haven for parents, too: It's not their kitchen.

Michela Larson, owner of Michela's, offers a "Kids in the Kitchen" class for parents and children several times a year. A professional chef and mother of two, Ms. Larson is one of many who see cooking as way to learn, bond, and just plain have fun.

"With everybody as busy as they are in this life, {cooking} is a real break. It's a time for parents to be with their kids with no distractions," Larson says.

Today's menu includes Joshua's baked apples (See recipe), personalized pizzas, and festive gingerbread cookies.

Pastry chef Joshua DeGroot begins by demonstrating the first few steps of his baked-apple recipe as the kids and parents look on. "The one trick in this is not to pack the stuffing too tightly. Otherwise, the apple will explode, and that's no fun," he says. "We want an apple that's soft but not mushy," he adds.

After the demonstration, he pulls out a tray of already-baked apples. "This is what they look like when they're done."

Next, the kids wrap the baked apples in thin filo dough.

"If it tears on you, don't worry," calls out Mr. DeGroot. "Don't be shy with the butter!" he adds, as the kids paint each filo sheet and attempt to wrap them around the apple.

"It's fun to make kids excited about food and enjoy it," says Lolly Foley, mother of three. Holding her infant with one hand and a camera in the other, she observes her husband Henry and daughters Catherine, 8, and Kyle, 7, as they dig into the action. Kyle sneaks a small piece of filo in her mouth every chance she gets.

"The kids get to see everything we {chefs} do," says DeGroot later. "So it demystifies. Little kids just love to play. I did, and I've been cooking since I was five - making a mess in the kitchen! …

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