My Little Chef/Baker-In-Training

emmesurla1

My eight year old daughter has loved to cook and bake since she was itty-bitty. When she wasn’t in the kitchen with me trying to help she was spread out all over the den in her make-believe kitchen whipping up everything from milkshakes to croquembouche. She was, and still is, very passionate about her cooking and she has a constant thirst to learn more. For the first time last year she attended a Sur La Table cooking camp for kids and she had the most amazing experience. So when it was time to sign her up this year for summer activities at the top of her list was more cooking classes. She just completed a three-day baking series and was so proud of herself that I promised her a spot on the blog!

In this three-day camp she learned:

  • Day 1 – Pies and Tarts (Perfect Pie Dough, Cherry Hand Pies, Vanilla Short Crust Dough, Vanilla Pastry Cream, and Summer Berry Tartlets)
  • Day 2 – Bakeshop (Morning Glory Muffins, Ham and Cheese Scones, and Monkey Bread)
  • Day 3 – French Pâtisserie (Pâte à choux, Vanilla Pastry Cream, Chocolate Eclairs, and Gougères)

I couldn’t believe how much she learned and how great her treats turned out. Pictured above is the Summer Berry Tartlet and Cherry Hand Pie. Not only did they look good, they tasted great too! On top of learning the above recipes she was also taught the proper way to hold and use a knife, the importance of preparing your work space and ingredients, kitchen safety and hygiene, and proper measuring techniques. I was very impressed with how much she developed in the kitchen in those three short days. She also gained so much more confidence in herself and her abilities and she couldn’t wait to put her newly acquired skills to work.

In a few weeks she will be taking a full week cooking class. She was so torn on which class to take for a week but ultimately she decided that she wanted to spend more time learning to cook since, in her words, “I am already so good at baking“. In the cooking camp she will learn essential kitchen skills while mastering more cooking techniques and recipes.

In this five-day camp she will learn:

  • Day 1 – Knife Skills (Rainbow Salad with Toasted Sesame Vinaigrette, Grilled Ginger Chicken Skewers, Veggie Yakisoba, and Pineapple Lime Sorbet with Fresh Mint)
  • Day 2 – Measuring and Baking (Perfect Pizza Dough, Pizza Margherita with Fresh Mozzarella and Basil, and Calzones)
  • Day 3 – Sauté and Sauces (Sautéed Sugar Snap Peas with Buttermilk Ranch Dip, Grilled Chicken with Honey BBQ Sauce, and Vanilla Frozen Yogurt with Strawberry Sauce and Sprinkles)
  • Day 4 – Pasta (Fresh Pasta Dough, Spaghetti with Marinara Sauce with Homemade Meatballs and Cannoli Dip with Orange Zest and Mini Chocolate Chips)
  • Day 5 – Sur La Table Restaurant Skills (House Smoked Mozzarella and Tomato Crostini, Corn Soup with Basil Foam, Ham and Cheese Soufflé, and Summer Berry Parfait)

I highly recommend the Sur La Table cooking classes because they really go above and beyond the typical scrambled egg or frosting a cupcake that other classes might teach kids at this age. I love that she is learning advanced cooking and baking techniques like making a Pâte à choux, which is something even an adult might be afraid to attempt. As an added bonus, she made a lot of nice friends and learned to work cooperatively in the kitchen. It’s been a wonderful experience for her all around.

Even if a cooking class isn’t your child’s thing at the very least, encourage them from time to time to cook and bake alongside you. Not only will you be creating lots of fun memories with them but by starting them in the kitchen at an early age you’ll also be giving them a leg up as they get older. They will develop confidence in the kitchen and learn skills that will be essential once they are out on their own in the world. Plan meals together, let them cook a favorite recipe with you, and simply make them part of the process in the kitchen and you’ll be surprised at just how capable and eager they are.

My little sous chef is still saying after all these years that she’d love to go to pastry school and open her own bakery one day. Although she’s young and might change her mind a 1000 times from now until she’s an adult, if she did end up in pastry school I think it would be pretty awesome to watch her become exactly what she wanted to be from the time she was three years old. Time will tell and in the meantime, I’m just going to encourage her to keep on doing her thing in the kitchen.

emmesurla2

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