About a month ago a good friend asked me to come to the school where she teaches for career day. I immediately agreed, saying it would be an honor to spend two hours talking about being a chef and business owner. After returning that text message, fear crept in. Did I just agree to subject myself to two hours of questions from fourth and fifth graders? Had I thought this through appropriately? What was I getting myself into here?
Arriving at the school with knife bag in tow, I realized there was no turning back. Soon I would be subjected to the most honest and direct questioning I had ever faced in my life. Sweat seeping down the back of my shirt, I headed into the school gymnasium. As I was setting up my table, I realized I was the first to arrive. What can I say? I like to be prepared when going into battle.
The kids funneled in with their weapons of choice: pencils and clipboards. Let the battle begin. As the first group of kids approached my table, I greeted them with a nervous smile. When they smiled back, my fears disappeared. I wasn’t prepared for how warm and sincere a child’s smile makes you feel. All my worries were wiped away when the first kid asked, “Have you been on ‘Chopped’?” I smiled and replied, “No, but I’m still young. You never know.”
The question I asked every group of kids was whether they cook at home. A lot of kids said they cook a little, but overwhelmingly the answer was “Not really.” The kids said they wanted to learn, and most said their parents showed them some things in the kitchen, but not a lot. When I was their age, my parents both worked, and not traditional shifts. So my sister and I were left home alone, mostly with frozen TV dinners. That was when I decided to learn how to cook – not as a career, but out of necessity. Fortunately, I didn’t burn the house down. The smoke detector always let me know the food was done.
I realize as a parent you are busy and that quality time with your kids is at a premium, but think about making time to cook with them. Not only will it be fun, but you can help your children develop skills that will serve them later in life. It can be something as easy as making a pizza or scrambling eggs. Trust me. After talking to these great kids, I realize they just want to spend time with you and make memories that will last a lifetime.