Let’s face it, cooking is what all the cool kids are doing these days. We all love cooking, from trying recipes from Pinterest to the meal kits delivered to our doorsteps. We even have entire food channels and shows focused on cooking and baking and a seemingly endless array of cooking competitions like Chopped, Next Food Network Star and Worst Cooks in America. Cooking has become a competitive sport and big entertainment with “celebrity” chefs garnering followers like Hollywood movie stars or professional athletes. And it’s not just foodie adults driving this culinary resurgence—kids are also getting into the act.
Growing up I have fond memories of sitting around the table with my family for dinner at least 5 nights out of the week. Can you imagine? It was very important to my parents that we all sit down together to connect and talk about our days. We never really cooked with Mom (it wasn’t until college that I taught myself to cook) but while the food was functional, not fancy, the bonding was what was important.
Kids these days may see how their parents react when they have made a great meal or talk about going to a new restaurant. Maybe, like my kids, they watch a little Food Network with Mom or Dad and are drawn to the creativity, the competition or just the images of crazy birthday cakes or carnival treats? For a variety of reasons, kids are getting into the kitchens and cooking and that is most definitely a good thing. Our family cooks together every weekend—from planning recipes, shopping, cooking and eating—we work as a team. My kids have become experts in preparing guacamole and they know how to sous vide cook a steak—not to mention their brownie baking skills would put Betty Crocker to shame.
It’s no surprise why kids are attracted to the culinary arts—the hands on aspect, the creativity and, of course, the eating part. There has been a surge of kid-oriented cooking products, classes, camps and TV shows, such as Chopped Kids, Kids Master Chef and the Kids Baking Championship.
Have you seen any of these cooking shows featuring kids? I am very impressed with their skills, confidence, creativity and fearlessness. There are a number of valuable skills kids learn when watching or being on these shows. First and foremost, they learn that it is a competition and not everyone can win, but that hard work and teamwork payoff. I have also been impressed by the sportsmanship. Kids competing against each other will also help each other when one kid struggles and there are consoling hugs when one of them gets voted out of the competition by the adult judges. The kids also increase their cooking skills.
My own kids are already asking how they can get on one of those shows. As a father, I love to see them setting lofty goals and the opportunity to use it as a teaching moment to reinforce hard work. I don’t know if my kids are going to end up on Food Network one day—but what I do know is that we will continue to cook together as a family. Watching their creativity and confidence blossom while savoring the time spent together is something I do not take for granted.
Erik Halvorsen is a devoted father, loving husband, and ambitious innovator; he is consistently searching for new technology to help cure diseases, benefit patients’ lives, and change how we experience healthcare. He was named one of the top 30 Chief Innovation Officers in healthcare in the country, and he has been listed as one of the Top 40 Under 40 in Boston. Erik is also a member of the Forbes Technology Council.