When Kids Play Superchefs

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Date Posted: November 3, 2014
Source: Chef at Large

Kids love cooking! It’s fun, it’s messy and it’s by far one of the safest experiments they can enjoy with you. This was evident at The Westin’s Kids cook-off at New Delhi and Mumbai as a part of its Wellness Movement campaign.

At the event, the kids were first quizzed about what they liked to be part of their school lunch boxes. Then the chefs, Kapil Dubey in New Delhi and Ajay Chopra in Mumbai, involved them in a discussion on how they could prepare their favourite foods with healthier ingredients.

As an advocate for wellness and healthy eating, Westin teamed up with Super-Chefs, a group of doctors, dentists, dieticians, chefs and other experts dedicated to educating kids on the importance and the fun of eating smart, to create The Westin Eat Well Menu for Kids.

Knowing that kids like dishes that are high on taste and colorful to boot, lot of these dishes are those that are omniscient in a breakfast spread, for instance, fresh juices and smoothies. Since it is equally important to get them to eat nutrition-packed vegetables and fruits, the other SuperFoods included asparagus, walnuts, oranges, honey, lemon and even some decadent dark chocolate.

While the Westin Culinary Academy is a weekend feature, a cooking session for kids is a new initiative by the hotel chain. Held in New Delhi and Mumbai on separate dates in August 2014, the event was well organized. It helped that chefs Kapil and Ajay are indulgent dads themselves who also know how invaluable it is for growing children to eat the right kinds of food.

They therefore created a format that would be interesting for children and would encourage their trying their hands in the kitchen. Completely at ease around the little team of sous-chefs, they had the kids revved up for the four dishes they were to cook.

In Delhi, this included pizza from scratch, Chicken Pasta, Chicken Fingers and Pancakes. This is what dream menus are made of, and this was the opinion of Ally, the cute 8-year old who mastered these four dishes so well that it is part of the weekend menu at her home now! In Mumbai, the kids made the fresh Herbal Fare juice, Walnut Papaya Pie and a Pin Roll Sandwich.

The recipes were easy; the substitutions, like using honey instead of sugar, did not make a great difference to the essential nutritive value of the meal. But it did put healthier alternatives into perspective.

The kids seemed most curious about various ingredients like buttermilk in chicken fingers and pineapple as topping for a pizza as well as baby spinach and different types of cheese. Chefs helped the kids make their own whole-wheat pizza bases, which was another
new for some of them.

The fact that the kids were engrossed for the hour and half long sessions was a feat in itself! The cook-off concluded with a tasting and the kids flitted around with their wares, oblivious to how learning ran parallel with fun for a change.

This was followed by a lunch at Seasonal Tastes, which made for a great weekend afternoon! Kids usually veer towards the pasta stations, but this time a lot of them were seen tucking into salads, Dim Sum and grills too.

Kids are constantly under the influence of their environment and small experiences can make a large difference to how they see themselves and their world. For us, this session further cemented our children’s wish to cook for a living.

How that pans out, we shall see!

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