Getting to Know Kiddy Cook — South East London!
I would never have thought cooking with my two year old son would have been so enjoyable. He has an attention span of about 10 seconds and would much rather be jumping around on a trampoline or running away from me. He has never been a conformer or been able to sit quietly in a circle at any of the toddler groups we go to. The saying goes that ‘you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink?’, this basically sums up my experience of our first cooking class but it got better. We found Becky Wild and her South East London Kiddy Cook franchise. We recently booked up for her classes for 2–4 year olds (Cookie tots).
Becky’s an advocate of healthy food, she’s like the fairy cook mother you never knew you had. A real foodie and yogi with wellbeing and nutrition at the forefront of everything she wants to pass on through her cooking classes. I was lucky that she made my lunch while I could get to know her a bit better. I wanted to find out where her passion for food started as ‘That Foodie Feeling’ is campaign is all about getting kids interested in food.
“I would say since early childhood my life has pretty much revolved around food. In my earliest years, I enjoyed the productivity of cooking, the creativity. Through the years I have enjoyed so many different elements and perspectives of food of which the pleasure of taste is just a small part. The anthropology of food, food as medicine, food as art, food as science, food as joy, food as comfort, food as the individual choice, food as a social tool, food as the cement and glue of a family… there’s a lot to be passionate about!”
There is real importance in getting kids into cooking, especially if you have a fussy eater. For one thing, you’re enabling their independence, they learn about where food comes from, it keeps them entertained, it’s is a way of celebrating food, eating it together, enjoying it and feeling good. Becky chooses to cook and eat healthy food as a rule she lives by which is pretty inspirational too. It can be hard to be so disciplined when you feel like you never get a chance to sit down as mum always on the go. I’ve certainly done some affirmative nods while she answered how being a busy mum herself she makes time for wellness and healthy food?
“I have simply made a choice not to eat junk food and I don’t deviate from this. Over a decade or so, this has become really ingrained in me. I am not militant with my children as I don’t want them to feel too different to their friends and I understand how important a tool food is in social identity, especially with children. So, we have choices I am happy with at home and they have a sound model in how we eat at home but I understand outside of the home it might be different. I try to home make as much as possible but allow the easy and convenient options as and where they’re necessary. I’m quite fast at getting things done in the kitchen (and sometimes imprecise and imperfect, but I don’t focus on that, that’s the beauty of cooking. Mostly, everything will work out.) I try to get the preparation for dishes done in stages so they don’t take as long at once. Peel carrots as a matter of habit rather than for a specific meal or snack, so that there are always carrots ready for snacking and cooking, for example. I am quite sure that my husband would rather we ate less well sometimes as it is hugely time consuming to be so focussed on close to the source cooking … but there is great pleasure in it too.”
It can be exhausting cooking from scratch and preparing food only to have a fussy eater not touch it but, kids learn everything from their parents so setting a good example with healthy home cooked food is important. We also all want to feel good by eating too. What motivates Becky?
“I have observed in my own self how food directly impacts on all levels of my wellbeing, from my emotional and physical wellbeing to my general ability to get through my day operating at my optimum capacity. I have enjoyed stripping food down to its bare essentials and putting them back together in their purest, most natural forms. I adhere to the idea of the body being a temple, within moderation! I am inspired by feeling good and by my food tasting better. I am inspired by the possibilities of food to help us be the happiest, healthiest versions of ourselves.”
All the planning on what to make, ensuring it’s healthy, getting the food shopping with the kids, supervising the kids while they cook, cleaning up all the mess sound stressful?
Becky creates a calm and relaxed environment and does all the hard work. It’s a wonderful and memorable activity to do with your kids.
Each time we arrived to classes there was the usual shyness from my boy who is about as shy as a hungry bear at a picnic. His attention is soon back on track when Becky pulls out her hamper of food we may or may not be cooking with for the class. This is where the fun starts. Becky provides all the ingredients, cooking equipment and an apron and the cooking stations are a chance for curious kids to get to grips with scissors, garlic crushers and graters. I have to admit this is the part where I became a bit on edge, knowing how much our 2 year old loves to throw. I usually stand over him like a barricade so that the garlic crusher if thrown is not going to hit another toddler in the head. I wanted to find out what has been her most memorable moment cooking with kids. She must have seen it all, has a child ever thrown a garlic crushers or a pair of scissors?
“There are so many memorable moments. The process is so special. There are so many beautiful displays of real pride, where children are really so proud of what they have achieved, amazed by their own brilliance. I feel very honoured to be there to witness these moments. I think the younger children are quite funny in that they are less focussed on the tasks at hand and will happily abandon the mission part-way through and run off to find something else to do leaving a kitchen-full of mums and dads finishing the job!”
I look back to where it all began a few months ago when our cooking repertoire consisted of making rice crispy cakes, which he refused to eat for some reason. We can thankfully put rice crispy cakes well and truly behind us now. You’d be amazed at what your little chefs get to make and take home at Kiddy Cook. Stuffed peppers, falafels and berry bars are included in the menu but I don’t want to say too much and ruin the surprise. It’s always delicious, fresh, healthy food that you get to take home for dinner and taste along the way which is great for getting kids to try out new foods and their textures and flavours.
When the cooking’s done it’s time to hang up your apron. The hour you spend together passes far too quickly. The class is rounded off with a tasty treat tray and a little refreshment for the kids to try. This always goes down well after a hard afternoon running in and out of the kitchen. One of our aims of going was to get my fussy eater more interested in food which it did. It’s something to keep us occupied all summer too now he enjoys it.
The good news is that Becky is taking her franchise into local schools and nurseries and does parties too. You can find Becky at lots of local food events this summer. She is currently running events in East Dulwich, Beckenham and Penge for kids of all ages which can be found on her website.
We really recommend her classes! We now have a boy who loves to do ‘cooting’ as he calls it, it’s given him a real interest in food too.