How do I contact Cricket to schedule a cooking lesson or appearance?
For additional information or to schedule a cooking lesson, an interview or a demonstration with Cricket, call (718) 406-7506 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In your cooking classes, children learn “more than just a recipe”? What does that mean?
In addition to learning how to make a delicious recipe, children are also learning traditional disciplines such as math, science, geography, history, nutrition, social studies, art, language and reading skills. Our cooking classes also develop skills related to socialization, physical activity, and lifetime learning.
Interestingly, the research I conducted for my master’s thesis, entitled “Children’s Cooking Classes: An Alternative Method to Enhance Learning,” indicated that children retain more of the educational content of a lesson when they use all of their senses, as opposed to being lectured to in the traditional classroom format.
When developing recipes and/or curriculum for your classes, what do you consider?
I work to incorporate as much educational content as possible (such as math, science, and nutrition), while still maintaining an entertaining and interesting environment.
The lesson absolutely has to be of interest to kids. And, with that said, my primary goal is always to work with fun ingredients and foods–ones kids love already, as well as ones I can teach them to like.
What do you feel sets you apart as a cooking class instructor?
I make sure children keep both their hands and minds busy the entire time they are in the kitchen with me. For example, even when I am completing a simple step on my own, for instance adding a spice, I keep children involved by asking them to smell the spice and spell its name. We might also talk about where the spice grows and how it is harvested.
Do you feel there is such a thing as “kids’ food?”
In my opinion, most any food is appropriate for children. If a child is only offered chicken fingers and macaroni and cheese, then, of course that’s what he or she will want and prefer. The challenge is exposure.
Children typically don’t like foods they don’t know. But, once a child becomes familiar with a food, he or she is much more comfortable with and open-minded to eating it.
For this reason, I incorporate a variety of colorful, delicious ingredients in each recipe. This ensures the children in my classes are exposed to as much as possible. And, since the recipes go home with each child, this ensures Mom and Dad get something they like, too!
What led you to pursue a career in food?
I have always loved to cook and eat. I was at a crossroad in my career, trying to decide between becoming a chef or an elementary school teacher, when it hit me – I can do both! Now, I teach elementary aged children about food, my favorite topic. Talk about having your cake and eating it, too!
Did you cook and enjoy food as a child?
My mother was not much of a cook, unless opening a can of tuna is considered cooking! I think her aversion to cooking directly affected my desire to be a good cook (plus, I was sick and tired of canned tuna)!
My fondest childhood memories surround the kitchen. I remember taking cooking classes at age 5 at a small gourmet store in Kansas City. Believe it or not, I actually prepare some of those same recipes today–Stone Soup and Navajo Fried Bread are both regular menu items in my home and in my classroom. I also recall being in Montessori school and the excitement of simply cutting up bread and passing it to my peers. Without question, of all the classes and schools I have attended over the years, my food and cooking experiences are the most unforgettable.
What do you most enjoy about teaching children to cook?
I am overwhelmed with satisfaction when I see a student’s eyes light up at the discovery of a new food or ingredient, especially one that he or she thought they wouldn’t enjoy. I am also pleased to be able to share this news with parents, who I often find are a bit leery of that food or ingredient themselves!
Here’s an example: Recently, a parent returned to pick up their child from class and was surprised to learn his child now likes eggplant. “You made something with eggplant?” he questioned, squishing his nose at mention of the vegetable. They went home with the recipe, and the next time I saw them, the father shared that, at age 40, he now likes eggplant!
How do you feel children’s cooking classes can help fight childhood obesity?
Children are often nervous to try new food and ingredients. But when they actively participate in the preparation of a recipe and become comfortable with the ingredients, the food is no longer foreign and they are much more likely to eat it.
Children are not going to choose healthier options unless they know what the options are and what they taste like. And I think it is my responsibility, as well as that of parents, to introduce children to these healthier options.