In this series about Little Cooks I talk with kids and parents who have a love for cooking and family time in the kitchen. Today I’m talking with 12-year-old Mackenzie and her mom, Gillian who live in Guelph, Canada. As we chat a little about Mackenzie’s favorite foods (“crepes, because they are light and delicate”), it quickly becomes apparent that she is incredibly articulate about cooking procedures and confident in how to use ingredients in her dishes.
Mackenzie started cooking when she was only 7 years old and has since been filling her family kitchen with smells of her signature risotto, laughter and some epic fails, as she puts it.
“Mackenzie suffers from arthritis so we looked for something she could love outside of physical activities like basketball and dance. She was always interested in cooking so we made an effort to encourage it” said mom Gillian.
When Mackenzie started out, her parents would give her a key ingredient, like apples from the orchard and Mackenzie would find a recipe to go with it.
The parents’ dedication and willingness to give this young cook time and freedome in the kitchen was not only good for her arthritis, but also had some great and unexpected learning benefits: recipes helped her to read, measuring ingredients helped with understanding fractions. All the while growing her confidence.
Gillian explains that Mackenzie used to be quite a picky eater but by her trying new recipes she has found a love for different types of foods.
“I used to dislike lamb, but after trying it at cooking camp I’m now all about lamb!” Mackenzie explains enthusiastically.
Cooking has been good for family time as well. “We enjoy spending time together without a screen” Gillian notes.
The Food Network, Pinterest and the 12 cooking camps she’s participated in have proved great sources of inspiration for creating new dishes. Either with or without her parents and best friend.
“I love cooking with my dad most. He gets a bit confused sometimes and it’s very entertaining to watch!” jokes Mackenzie.
With her love for cooking Mackenzie feeds those around her with gusto. She and her dad (the sous-chef) even made hundreds of cookies that fed her schoolmates for a week.
At her young age she is now so experienced that her mom will even ask her to prepare dinner for the family, all on her own.
“Last week mom wanted to help me prepare dinner but I asked her to get out of the kitchen because I was in the zone.” says Mackenzie.
Growing up she would like to be either a baker or a meteorologist.
I think she will be great at whatever she ends up doing if she puts the passion in it that she has shown with her cooking.