It’s the last day of term for many children in the UK, and if you have kids you may be looking for something to keep them entertained over the summer holidays. Why not get them to spend some time in the kitchen? Who knows by the age of 13 they might be running their own supper club, like this young man - who does look uncannily like a young Tom Aikens. Read on to find out more about him & other young foodies
13-year-old chef Flynn McGarry. Photograph: Paris McGarry
Precocious or genius? Food writer Oliver Thring reported in The Guardian about 13 year old Flynn McGarry who runs a monthly supper club, Eureka, from his parents’ home. “They’ve indulgently converted his bedroom into a gleaming professional kitchen. He’s done stages at high-end restaurants across America, and his 2012 summer plans include a stint at the three Michelin-starred Eleven Madison Park in New York, and “finishing eighth grade”. “
Apparently young Flynn wants three Michelin stars and a restaurant on the World’s 50 Best Resaurants list. “Sometimes I sort of think he’s like, you know, reincarnated from like a French chef in the, you know, 20s or something,” said his mother. The family aren’t quite sure where he got his cooking skills from and Flynn is adamant they didn’t come from his mother.
Thring goes on to describe more young foodies (all from the US) who are all into high end cookery. He concludes “What can be unsettling or even spooky about them is not their talents, which may be considerable. It’s the fact they are like miniature adults….. High-end cooking aims for sophistication, so children with an interest in it will always seem older than they are. Nothing ages you like having a palate.”
But what of those children who enjoy spending time in the kitchen, whether it’s copying the activity of their parents or just because they are interested in cooking. Food blogger Danny Kingston aka Food Urchin finds hard to stop his twins from getting stuck in when he bakes. It’s a great way to keep them occupied, particularly when the weather is awful outside.
His twins also have quite developed palates and firmly know what tastes they enjoy. Danny says even though they are twins “preferences, tastes and flavour combinations couldn’t be further apart. The boy, despite his boisterousness and proclivity for destruction is a bit of a vegetarian at heart. He favours mushrooms, roasted red peppers and artichoke hearts on his pizza. My daughter, swirling around, all fairies and princesses and light is a meat fiend and wouldn’t be offended if I stuck a cow on her pizza.”
Another of our food bloggers Monica Shaw wrote “many chefs got their start at a very early age, influenced by members of their family who appreciated good food and cooking it well.
These days, with childhood obesity on the rise and growing concerns that Britain is losing its food heritage, it’s more important than ever that we encourage young people to get into the kitchen. One place doing just that is The Vegetarian Cookery School in Bath which last year hosted its first ever Young Chefs Competition”.
The contest went so well that Demuths Vegetarian Restaurant and The Vegetarian Cookery School are delighted to announce the second year of the competition for aspiring young chefs. The deadline for entry is 1st September 2012 and you can find full details here.
Junior MasterChef will be returning to our TV screens soon, with filming taking place in the school holidays this August. The show’s executive producer, Karen Ross, said: “We are very excited about the return of Junior MasterChef. The first series’ contestants overwhelmed us with their level of cooking ability and enthusiasm and proved that the culinary ambition of 9 to 12 year olds is alive and well all over the British Isles. We eagerly await to see what masterpieces our next group will come up with!”
If you talk to many great British chefs about how they got started in food, you’ll often hear childhood memories of baking cakes with their mum or great aunt or watching their father carve a Sunday joint. The Telegraph ran a regular series of posts called Soul Food where they featured chefs childhood foodie memories.
You’ll discover that Tom Kerridge cooked a lot of food for his younger brother as child. Tom Aikens was influenced by his mother’s apple pie. Theo Randall’s Mother’s baked potatoes had a lasting impression on him “Crispy skins, fluffy insides – I remember the excitement of cutting them open and mashing in butter and pepper. They were legendary.”
What memories do you have of cooking as a child? What types of food do you like to cook with your children’s help? We’re discussing this over on Great British Chefs Facebook page.