August 20, 2012

Kid foodies give new meaning to ‘playing with your food’

Posted by: in North America

Foodie-ism is filtering down to the youngest generation (even as kid favorites like grilled cheese and cupcakes permeate adult food culture) as kids become more interested in, and involved with, the foods they eat. And a kid foodie subculture is emerging, with some turning their interest into fledgling culinary careers. Thirteen-year-old Flynn McGarry runs a monthly supper club from his parents’ California home and recently developed a nine-course pop-up menu at the L.A. restaurant Playa. Twins Lilly and Audrey Andrews, age 10, created the food blog Twinchefs.net and have cooked with Wolfgang Puck.

Today the White House hosted the first “kids state dinner” (a lunch), honoring winners of a recipe contest for children, the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge, co-sponsored by Epicurious and the Departments of Education and Agriculture. The event was part of Michelle Obama’s campaign against childhood obesity, one of a growing number of programs encouraging kids to think in new ways about what they eat. For example, slow food pioneer and iconic chef Alice Waters is leading the Edible Schoolyard Project, which aims to build a food-related curriculum for schools; similarly, in the U.K., Jamie Oliver is sponsoring the Kitchen Garden Project, which works with schools to “arm children with the skills they need to prepare meals from scratch and the knowledge to make better food choices.” At the same time, some kid-focused caterers (like this summer camp) are taking a healthier and more ambitious approach to mess hall meals.

With more kids becoming foodies, or at least more knowledgeable about culinary options, brands have an opportunity to fuel the movement by creating more child-centric cooking tools, cookbooks and apps, potentially becoming a part of the conversation as well.

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