Online Cooking Classes For Kids Who Love To Prepare Food – Irish Examiner | Directory Mayhem

Halfway through the morning, with tomato fondue bubbling on the stove, chocolate eggs on the countertop, and 11-year-old Hannah shaping rabbit pancakes in a hot skillet, I realized: online cooking classes with kids really work. Until then, I have to admit that I didn’t think much of virtual cooking classes. How much could young children really learn just by looking at a screen? It took a class with Darina Allen to convince me.

Over the past Easter break, out of sheer desperation, I signed Hannah up for a 90 minute cookalong at the Ballymaloe Cookery School, hoping it would entertain her for a morning while I work.

When the instructions from Ballymaloe arrived, I gave up all hope of getting some computer time for myself. Fourteen pages; eight recipes and a complete grocery list. But Hannah was fully invested. She went through the pantry and found what additional ingredients we needed. She shopped, weighed and prepared everything.

By 11 a.m. we were prepared: aprons were on, the computer was in a safe place in the kitchen, the ingredients were in bowls. Darina, who was cooking with Rachel Allen, pitched in and we had a hilarious morning of chopping, shuffling, tasting and cooking. Or in my case washing dishes and tidying up. We even had to call another kitchen hand to help; Nine-year-old Maya, drawn by the enticing aromas, was handed the cheese grater and set to work making quesadillas.

While the girls prepared dishes at full speed and the three of us were having tremendous fun, Darina and Rachel shared tips on reusing the recipes, demonstrated knife techniques and conducted a highly entertaining demonstration while addressing questions and comments from the audience.

At 1pm the girls and I were seated next to a stack of odd shaped pancakes to a delicious lunch of quesadillas with all the trimmings. Dinner—chicken wings with sweet chili sauce—was in the fridge, ready to cook, with treats to share.

While we had lots of fun zipping around the kitchen and cooking, the big bonus was that the girls learned new skills and also got to eat delicious, healthy food. This is an advantage that should not be underestimated.

Teaching children to cook has taken on new meaning as one in five primary school children in Ireland is now classified as overweight or obese, according to a recent study by the HSE Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative.

Getting kids into the kitchen has long been a passion for Allen. Her latest book, How to Cook, filled with easy, nutritious recipes, is also a call to arms and calls for hands-on cooking and growing skills to become part of the school curriculum.

She decided to offer the free Easter course as part of the Ballymaloe Cookery School’s online offering. In the end, 2,500 people from all over the world tuned in to the live broadcast, and more than 4,500 then followed it online. “I love giving cooking classes to kids. When they can get into the kitchen and do it themselves, the excitement is palpable,” says Allen.

Chef JP McMahon of Aniar Restaurant wants to teach kids how to cook.
Chef JP McMahon of Aniar Restaurant wants to teach kids how to cook.

While face-to-face lessons for kids in the kitchen at Ballymaloe also include visiting the garden and greenhouses to see where the vegetables come from and feeding scraps to the chickens, Allen’s online course didn’t skip any of the techniques that she thinks is important: “How to use a knife, use a vegetable peeler, convey the message of not wasting anything.” She likes to “make a lot of exciting savory things and end up making something sweet.” A few basic recipes and you’re good to go. All you have to do is take the mystery out of it.”

Demystifying cooking for kids is also something Neven Maguire is good at. Bord Bia ran a Learn to Cook with Neven contest over the summer, where winners got to take one of six Zoom cooking classes with Maguire. Bord Bia brand manager Hylda Adams said they had intended to hold the cooking classes in person at Bloom in the Park last year, but when that was cancelled, Maguire suggested doing it online. Adams said they were pleasantly surprised by the response: There were many entries — one class even had more than 2,000 entries — from which they randomly selected 25 children, who were each sent an apron, recipe booklet and link to the class .

“What we wanted to achieve in these classes was to introduce kids to cooking,” Maguire said. “We’ve selected recipes that they could find success with and things they can eat immediately afterwards. Because of this, we always had something like scones. There are many basic recipes like lasagna and omelets that you can live without for a lifetime once you learn them. And it was very important to us to get people on this path. We wanted them to be passionate about cooking, respect food and aware of the great Irish produce.”

The children could choose whether they wanted to cook, watch or just cook a dish. “We got great feedback, they loved the food. So interested and so determined,” Adams said.

It was also an opportunity to teach children how to source their groceries, with an emphasis on buying locally, and to introduce them to the Bord Bia quality label, showing that food has been produced in Ireland to the highest standard.

Maguire doesn’t stop there: his new book – Learn To Cook with Neven – is aimed specifically at children. “Cooking is an important life skill and I love getting new people started.”

Since the Ballymaloe Cookalong, my girls have tried several more online courses and are enjoying the chance to learn to cook from someone who isn’t their (overbearing) mother. You’ll gain life skills, explore cuisines from around the world, discover new foods, and eat well. Cooking together and eating together: It’s a win-win situation, especially when they take turns preparing dinner for the whole family.

  • Ballymaloe Cooking School: www.cookingisfun.ie; Recipes from Bord Bia’s Learn to Cook with Neven: www.bordbia.ie/neven-maguire/
  • How to Cook by Darina Allen and Learn To Cook with Neven by Neven Maguire are available now.

Six online cooking classes for kids

aniar: JP McMahon, owner and chef at Galway’s Michelin-starred restaurant Aniar, is launching an eight-week online course for children and teenagers aged nine to 16 on October 20. These are courses for more demanding young chefs, covering dishes such as ham cooked in stout and hay, Basque cheesecake and beef stew with handmade pappardelle. McMahon is a great teacher and this is a wonderful opportunity for your offspring to get a glimpse of a reputable restaurant kitchen. Eight weeks cost €250, individual lessons €35. www.aniarrestaurant.ie

The bunker: Catriona Callaghan at The Bunnery offers interactive Halloween camps for 6-13 year olds during half term (10:30am – 12:00pm for two days, €25).

thebunneryonline.com

Cookalicious: Cepta Mahon hosts great Zoom camps for tweens and teens where they take over the kitchen to cook a meal for the whole family. Your Mid-Term Cooking Camp will take place on 26/27/28. October daily from 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. Having experienced the nine year old taking one of Cepta’s classes and loving it – and we all thoroughly enjoy the dinner afterwards – I would highly recommend it.

www.cookalicious.ie

Healthy Ever After: Nutritionist Fiona McEnroy focuses on healthy alternatives in her live and interactive classes for kids. With Zooms happening every Tuesday or Thursday afternoon (subscription €35 every four weeks), she covers dishes like sweet potato chips, peach and blueberry pie, and red lentil and spinach dhal. Check out their free lesson option to see if your own little darlings like it.

www.healthyeverafter.ie

Saspan/Sospan: With roots in Wales and educated in New York at the French Culinary Institute, Lisa Davis now lives in Dublin and teaches online and at the Airfield Estate. Focusing on over 12 year olds, she travels the world through food and introduces tom yum soup, shakshuka and vegetarian korma to high school students. For Halloween she is giving an online teenage baking workshop on Monday October 25th (€20).

www.saspansospan.ie

The Susty kitchen: Rozanne Stevens, whose voice you may know from her regular appearances on Irish radio, underpins her work with a focus on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals for human health and the health of the planet, but still manages to have fun doing it to have. Their cookalong classes are timed to serve dinners of family-friendly favorites like chicken katsu and meatball subs.

www.rozannestevens.com

Books for cooking with children

  • For new cooks: DK Children’s Cookbook By Katharine Ibbs – each of the DK children’s cookbooks is a treasure trove of easy-to-follow recipes.
  • For story lovers: Nadiya’s Bake Me a Story by Nadiya Hussain – Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussain has a sophisticated way of telling beautiful stories that result in recipes like pea-mint risotto or very berry breakfast muffins.
  • For the gardeners: GIY’s know-it almanac by Michael Kelly and Muireann Ní Chíobháin – lots to do here, but also recipes for home-grown veg treats.
  • For kids who want something completely different: Cooking for Your Kids by Joshua David Stein – this collection of recipes from chefs around the world shows that everyone is in the same boat when it comes to putting food on the table for their kids. Although this book is aimed at parents, there are many playful recipes: spicy scrambled eggs, smoked sweet potato gnocchi or pork and zucchini dumplings.

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