Parents – be aware of what your kids are watching on television. It might turn out that what they see influences them to cook.
According to an Associated Press report, kids between four and 16 are really getting into the culinary arts with group cooking classes, summer camps, private lessons and birthday parties.
Kids, it turns out, are really into watching Emeril Lagasse, Bobby Flay and other chefs working their magic on the television.
Stephen Hengst, spokesman for the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., said kids are drawn to what he referred to as “eatertainment.”
Mark O’Connor, a spokesperson for the Food Network, said kids are a large part of the audience that turn out for public events and book signings by the celebrity chefs featured on its channel.
“Based on our Web site traffic, message boards, mail questions and telephone calls, we know that there are a major amount of kids watching from as young as 5 up to 15 years old,” Mr. O’Connor said.
Parents, it seems, are very happy to help their children pursue cooking as a hobby. “They used to cook with their mother or grandma, but life is so hectic they don’t have time to do the same for their kids. So they send them, or go with them, to cooking class,” said Mr. Hengst.
Katie Wilton, a cooking instructor and author of You’re the Cook!, said, “When there was a parent at home, then they were making a more extensive dinner and the kids could be involved. But everyone is rushing around so much that no one is there to teach them basic skills.”
There’s no doubt that kids are eating these classes up.
“Kids classes sell out before any of our adult classes,” said Mr. Hengst. “They are almost instant sellouts, and we are always adding new ones to meet the demand.” Whole Foods regularly has waiting lists for the cooking classes it offers for kids. Other cooking schools tell similar stories.
Gregory Zifchak, an associate professor at the Culinary Institute of America, said there are added benefits to kids learning to cook. “We’ve become a prepackaged, processed food society, where so many items in grocery carts are just heat and serve,” he said. Kids who know how to make their own eat better than those who simply throw packages into a microwave.
Discussion Questions: What does the growing interest in cooking classes for kids mean for food retailers in the near and longer term? How are (can) retailers
creating their own “eatertainment” in stores, web sites, in the media and out in the community?