I’m talking with 15-year-old Sarah, and her mom Michelle from Guelph, Canada. We live in the same city and as Sarah talks about the schools she’s gone to and the opportunities this city has given her I feel so grateful to live here. Yay for fellow cooking enthusiasts in my hometown!
Sarah started her cooking career at 8 years old. She would help her mom Michelle in the kitchen with the basics, adding and measuring ingredients.
It soon became clear that she thoroughly enjoyed cooking and was ready to take on more responsibility.
As Sarah was increasingly surrounded by cooking, both initiated by herself and at school, she became more confident in the kitchen.
Sarah now makes her mom breakfast in bed with omelettes, bacons, scrambled eggs and coffee but it wasn’t always smooth sailing. Mom and daughter laugh out loud when remembering the first special breakfast in bed that Sarah prepared for her mom. Instead of sleeping in and enjoying some extra time sleeping while food was being prepared Michelle woke up to the fire alarms because the eggs got burnt.
She tried to make her breakfast in bed one day. Mom was sleeping and woke up on the fire alarm. The pan was too hot and the eggs were burnt. She makes omelette, bacon, scrambled, eggs, coffee and breakfast in bed.
Michelle explains how she lets Sarah grow in her culinary skills: “If it’s not a safety issue, I’m not afraid of letting Sarah make a mistake. She knows that I’m always around so she can ask for help.”
When a recipe doesn’t work out quite right, they’ll analyse the outcome together. They’ll go over the measurements to check if Sarah put in the right quantities and followed the steps. Sometimes a mistake will be discovered, other times it will be a recipe malfunction.
Learning to cook at school
Cooking is an integral part of Sarah’s school and an activity that takes place on a weekly basis.
On Mondays her class prepares by searching through recipe sites. Students can propose a recipe and the class will vote on the one that appeals.
On Tuesdays a couple of kids will get the ingredients together with a teacher.
Wednesdays are when the cooking magic happens as they prepare the meal in the school kitchen.
Sarah even volunteered at her own grade school and led a cooking class. She took the initiative to contact her old teacher, brought one of her cookbooks and proposed to make brownies with the kids.
Michelle lets Sarah participate fully in preparing dinner for the family. She is allowed to choose and plan the meal and prepare it by herself if she feels up to it.
Michelle reasons: “If you’re trying to get your kids to eat certain foods there’s no better way than to let them prepare a meal out of them. On top of that it encourages them to be more involved, take ownership and get a real sense of pride when they’ve completed the meal.”
My kids are only 3 and 7 at the moment and I can’t possibly oversee what cooking will be like with them when they are teenagers. Throughout this series of interviews I’ve had the honour of speaking with exceptional teenagers about their cooking experiences. I hope that when the time comes I will be as chill as the parents of these talented kids, and that my kids will be as passionate as Sarah and the other teenagers.
Photos copyright and courtesy of Michelle & Sarah