Like many people around the world right now, restaurateur Marissa Hermer is a busy parent who’s recently added home-schooling young children to her responsibilities. And Hermer realizes that putting her kids Max, Jake, and Sadie in the kitchen is a good educational tool. Learning how to cook involves math, science, and other important life skills, of course. Plus, Hermer jokes, she can put her children on the line once her restaurants reopen for dine-in customers.
As a parent myself, with kindergartners who woke up this morning screaming about chocolate chips for no particular reason, I can tell you there’s a lot that even young children can do in the kitchen. With supervision, a 5-year-old can crack eggs. Maybe you don’t trust your kids to turn the stove or oven on and off yet. But you probably trust them to wash ingredients and measure and stir and set a timer.
L.A. couple Sean and Jessica Mickey are offering online classes (free, but donations on Venmo are appreciated) that show students how to make family-friendly plant-based dishes like hummus, Moroccan carrot salad, apple cider bread, and strawberry frozen yogurt.
“They are the most wonderful husband-and-wife-team, so of course I’m naturally drawn to them,” says Hermer, who opened her L.A. restaurants with her husband, Matt. “They teach children not only about cooking, but also about seasons, seed cycle, geography, and history. And my favorite is, all kids are required to try whatever they’ve cooked, and if they don’t like it, rather than saying ‘gross,’ they are instructed to say, ‘It isn’t my cup of tea.’ Isn’t that wonderful?”
Yes, putting kids in the kitchen is also a way to teach them about manners and etiquette, even when their faces are covered with syrup. Every week, families are emailed a prep sheet, recipes, and a Zoom link for class.
Milk Bar founder Christina Tosi has started an Instagram baking club where she teaches families how to make treats with simple ingredients like marshmallows, Cap’n Crunch, peanut butter, pretzels, and fruit. These free lessons are totally designed for kids to get their hands dirty: Tosi has had her nieces prepare sweets while they video-conference into the baking club.
Raddish Kids, an all-ages culinary club that delivers monthly cooking kits, is now offering free online classes. Founder Samantha Barnes, a former teacher and a home-school mom herself, has archived these cooking lessons on Facebook. And Raddish’s beautifully illustrated recipe cards, for dishes like blueberry pancakes and guacamole, are an excellent reference when you’re trying things at home.
This nonprofit, which wants to inspire children to eat vegetables and is known for teaching low-income families about cooking, nutrition, gardening, and staying active, has created a free online curriculum with Facebook Live lessons for fun snacks and meals like ranch popcorn, noodle soup, and veggie tostadas. There are pointers for everything from learning knife skills to what kids can do with dried beans.
Outschool, a marketplace of live online classes from independent teachers, has culinary classes, many of which are less than $20, that teach children things like how to bake desserts and make chicken pot pie. There are also more elaborate series of classes, including one that’s about “how to cook like the house elves at Hogwarts” (eight classes for $150).
If you’ve managed to stock up on flour and yeast, why not teach your kids how to make their daily bread? One good way to start is with King Arthur Flour’s free online lesson, featuring baker Amy Driscoll. This class is an extension of the company’s Bake For Good Kids program, which has a free recipe book with directions for dinner rolls, pizza dough, muffins, and more.
BY Andy Wang for foodandwine.com