Here’s Why…Kids in the Kitchen

This article on Kids and Cooking is featured in Mango Juice Inflight Magazine, April

We’re thrilled to have featured Josh Thirion, who’s book Cooking with Josh makes him the youngest South African author (9), and he recently won an award for the book at the World Gourmand Book Awards. We’re really proud of him too!

Josh – image Random Struick


The original piece:

COOKING SHOWS HAVE REACHED EPIC POPULARITY in South Africa at the moment. But it’s not just adults that are intrigued. Kids, inspired by MasterChef Junior and the Food Network channel are reclaiming the kitchen. Ishay Govender-Ypma is thrilled by this, and tells us why.

We want Real Food

It’s been a slow process, but the convenience food generation has finally grown up. Words like ‘organic’, ‘whole foods’, ‘sustainable’ and ‘local’ have become popular, not just with the foodie set. People are more aware now that cooking at home, while taking a bit of effort, is a way to better control what we, and our kids eat. Now that we have been exposed to what fast foods actually contains, there is very little to indicate it is a way to treat our kids.

The Benefits for Kids

Getting children involved in the kitchen and at meal times is a way to equip them for the future – it instills in children that good food consists of real ingredients, it takes some time to prepare but is rewarding.

Cooking teaches us:

  • Self sufficiency. School leavers who can’t fry an egg? This must change.
  • Cooking demonstrates economy, first hand – roasting a chicken for dinner, using the left overs for sandwiches for school for example.
  • Measuring and maths
  • Comprehension skills when reading the instructions,
  • Organisation – recipes follow an order and cooking involves cleaning up
  • Experimentation with flavours and textures – cooking from a young age educates palates
  • Appreciation
  • Confidence

Christine Phillips founded Little Cooks Club, a kids’ cooking school that has been franchised across the country, 7 years ago, inspired by her own children’s interest in the kitchen.

She says, “ Spending time in the kitchen making food together as a family gives you a chance to catch up. You pass down family favourites and traditions to your child – you are passing down special memories.  Let’s be honest, all children want to do is spend time with their parents and there’s no better place to do it than the kitchen while chatting, cooking and eating.”

Respect For Food

Naturally, you must exercise strict precautions with sharp objects and hot stoves, especially for kids under the age of 14.

John Torode, U.K restauranteur and MasterChef UK judge summarises it perfectly, “ Don’t assume your child understands that an oven is hot, or not to stick their finger in a boiling pot. Kitchens are dangerous, but try not to instill fear. Teach them to respect everything: a knife because it’s sharp; the oven because it’s hot; ingredients because they’re expensive.” 

Start Young

It makes sense that the younger you start teaching kids, the easier it will be for them to develop their skills.

The latest trend in kids’ parties involves baking and decorating sessions, and goodie bags of jars of layered cookie mix, cookie cutters and personalised aprons. A far cry from the birthday tables covered with plastic table cloths and bright snacks that I recall. And certainly an indication that cooking has joined the ranks of pony rides and dress up parties as a fun activity for children.


Josh Thirion, is South Africa’s youngest author at age 9 and says that his book, Cook with Josh (Random Struick) is based on his love of cooking, which he finds ‘creative and fun’. The MasterChef series, Jamie Oliver and local chef Tim Woodford are his inspirations and cottage pie pots his favourite dish to make.


  1. Little Cooks Club – (across the country)
  2. Tots n Pots – (across the country)

Image from Little Cooks Club




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