Cooking classes captivating children
Flour all over the floor, eggshell in the batter and sticky fingers everywhere – that’s the reality when you invite kids into the kitchen. Catherine Healy meets two mums who are prepared to take all that mess off your hands. DAILY GRIND
The benefits of getting children interested in cooking at a young age are clear. But if both parents are working fulltime, when and how do you teach them those skills?
There’s a new cooking class for five to 12-year-olds starting at the St Heliers Community Centre on May 15.
LittleCooks is the brainchild of two Auckland mums, Suzi Tait-Bradly and Rebecca Woolfall. They launched the business in Devonport in January 2012 and are now expanding to St Heliers.
With Mrs Woolfall’s corporate marketing background, Mrs Tait-Bradly’s degree in public administration and their shared passion for food and kids, they have the skills to make the business work.
Their small charges meet once a week for a term, cooking a huge range of dishes along the way.
‘‘We try and teach them a passion for cooking. We empower the kids to believe they can do it,’’ Mrs TaitBradly says.
They don’t shy away from dishes that most adults would find daunting, be it making fresh pasta or profiteroles.
‘‘It’s not hard to cook things from scratch. There’s no reason not to do it yourself,’’ Mrs Woolfall says.
They also put on themed children’s birthday parties which include creative party games as well as time in the kitchen.
‘‘It’s hard work,’’ Mrs Woolfall admits, but the feedback has been very positive.
‘‘One mother told me that the reason her child likes our classes so much is that it’s just good old-fashioned fun – there’s no pressure to win or perform.’’
Parents are surprised to find that children are much more likely to eat something they’ve cooked with their friends. A child who wouldn’t eat eggs has suddenly become a fan of frittata; the vegetableaverse will eat coleslaw.
The range of ages means the bigger children look after the little ones. They work in small groups, first appointing a leader, then reading the recipe carefully together, measuring and cooking. If there is downtime while the dishes are in the oven, Mrs Woolfall and Mrs Tait-Bradley run games to keep the kids busy.
‘‘I had a group of 14 boys so exercise became the theme – they needed to burn off some energy. I got them doing Zumba,’’ she says.
While the two women prefer running the classes together, as their business has grown they’ve had to ditch the double-act and work independently.
With three classes a week in Devonport, the new class in St Heliers and more birthday parties than they know what to do with, they’ll soon have to find others willing to muck in.
‘‘You need to have that sense of fun as well as patience and tolerance. Kids get upset sometimes when their food doesn’t come out looking quite right.’’
Being business partners and friends is tricky, Mrs Woolfall says.
‘‘We’ve had to have some difficult discussions and we’ve come out stronger for it. We have completely different backgrounds and strengths.
‘‘But I wouldn’t want to do this with anyone else.’’
Kitchen fun: Rebecca Woolfall and Suzi Tait-Bradly have built a business out of teaching kids to cook.