I’ve got some great news to share! But first let me set up the scene (bear with me, you’ll be glad you did).
Anyone who has been following me over the last several years knows how passionate I am about cooking, and more importantly, cooking with family.
I’ve been one of the lucky ones. I come from a true cooking family. Mother, father, brother and sister – we all got in the kitchen when I was growing up and we all vied for a place at the countertop and stove. You could say that it was a practice that seemed to be instinctual in all of us. But times have changed…
Mothers, fathers, kids – we are becoming a generation of non-cooks due to a number of lifestyle factors yet cooking skills are an opportunity to help our kids build real life skills, a true sense of accomplishment, self-sufficiency, food awareness and nutrition. I call cooking a SURVIVAL skill, no different from learning how to swim.
The Passion Partnership
I believe in this so strongly that I’ve partnered with my very talented and supportive friend, Julie Miguel, to start a project called “The Happy Kitchen Project” and it has blossomed beyond our wildest expectations! Essentially, the project focusses on making a home’s kitchen a happy place and not the source of daily stress, as it’s been labelled by so many families. Here’s how it came to be:
Julie and I have been working together since the launch of my cookbook and her amazing accomplishment of becoming one of the top finalists in season one of MasterChef Canada. She’s been the creative force (and when I say force, I mean hurricane strength) behind so many projects we’ve worked on, including custom food publications, association workshops/talks and corporate recipe development and food styling. Her own blog dailytiramisu.com is a popular read among young families (like me, Julie is mom to two busy boys, ages 2 and 5) learning to navigate the challenges of parenthood and making homemade cooking approachable, easy and delicious – the way it should be.
Last year, during a talk we both attended on setting positive intentions, a spark went off. You could almost see it (just ask the people sitting beside us). Since then, we have poured our time, hearts and souls into this project to create The Happy Kitchen Project. With so much culinary experience under our apron belts – from recipe developing, food editing, stylists, cooking class instructing, blogging, writing, speaking – we decided to took a leap of faith and develop a cooking skills program for kids ages 8 to 13. It followed months of research with parents, teachers, principals, caregivers, private educators, marketing strategists and KIDS, cause what they think matters most. The program is pretty revolutionary when it comes to teaching youth (and their parents) about food and cooking – and we know it works!
Here we COOK!
During our first class at Nature’s Emporium a few weeks back, there was an overwhelming demand. So much so that we had to cap registration!
Even though we’re still learning and growing, the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Kids LOVED being in the kitchen and they wanted more experiences. One of the most gratifying moments was hearing a student say while sit down in front of the meal she prepared, “Guys, can you believe we cooked this!?” It was a true testament to the power of our teachings and the difference we can make. Our only negative feedback was from a participant who said she wanted to learn other/more skills – we’re taking that as a positive because it tells us that when given the opportunity, kids WANT to learn to cook.
We are now busy building partnerships with venues to offer more classes to more of you. And we’re building lots of ways to connect with you like a website and social media now in the works. Stay tuned!
We haven’t finalized all the details yet, but building this movement is our first priority. We are in talks with a major Ontario college to host these classes in a professional cooking lab and we will continue to post status updates on our channels.
Thank you to all of the amazing people who have chatted with us, offered us advice and given us this wonderful opportunity to teach youth these incredibly important life skills – it’s helped to motivate us to forge ahead!
If you want to learn more, or you’re interested in bringing The Happy Kitchen to the youth in your life, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.