From group online classes to bespoke individual classes to reorganizing your kitchen and advising you on food choices everything Clara does is about bring the passion of food into the homes of her clients.

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Clara Cooks

How to Get Kids in the Kitchen Cooking?

For some parents, the idea of letting their children do the cooking may fill them with dread and fear, with potential scenes of a destroyed kitchen going through their mind. ‘Is it worth it?’ some parents might ask. However, there is a good chance that this might all be changing because of Covid-19. With many entertainment options limited for young people during the pandemic, it seems that many of them have turned to the kitchen and are now answering rather than asking the common household question ‘what’s for dinner?’.

From an early age, Clara has memories of her family, and there was always a smell of food in the house! She remembers standing on a chair next to her Mum while they cooked and baked in the kitchen. From the freshly baked bread every morning, the home-cooked dinners made with local produce, to the weekend cakes for when the relatives visited, her memories of food were all about connections and love. Cooking has always been a big part of life for Clara, and she wants to educate and share her passion for food with others, especially with the next generation of foodies!

This month, I decided to do some research on what we as a country are doing to educate children about food, and to learn why it is so important to educate children about food from an early age.   


Lisa Davies: Saspan/Sospan (Welsh and Irish for saucepan)

Lisa Davies of, trained at the French Culinary Institute in New York, before going on to set up a cookery school, the Montclair Culinary Academy. She has been in Ireland for the past four years, and before the pandemic hit, she offered lots of in-person classes for both teens and adults. Since the pandemic, she has been doing online zoom classes through Airfield Estate. The classes have been doing well as most of the students enjoy cooking in their own homes and having their family try their food. I love that my students are so proud of the dishes they have created and love sharing them with their families’.

When teaching, she will always start with teaching some basic safety and hygiene rules, before getting them to taste their food and build up their confidence in the kitchen. ‘We talk a lot about different flavours and what makes certain dishes work. I try to get the students to taste as they go along as that is so important when cooking. It also gives them confidence to experiment once they have some basics’.


Importance of teaching cooking from an early age

Lisa believes that teaching children to cook from an early age is extremely important due to its role in children’s educational development and helping them to understand the connection between the food they eat and the land and sea that produces it, as well as helping to expand their palates I’m amazed by how many children say they don’t like a certain food but will try it if they have made it themselves’.

She believes that teaching children to cook aids their educational development due to its link with so many academic subjects. Following a recipe is good for maths, it helps overall reading comprehension, plus there’s a bit of science involved – just think about yeast!’ She also believes that it is essential that children from an early age begin to understand where food comes from, and to understand the connection between what they eat, and the land and sea that produces it. ‘Now more than ever it is important for children to understand where their food comes from, and by that I don’t mean a supermarket. We are a farming island, and understanding the connection between what we eat, and the land and sea is vital for future generations as well as for local businesses’.

On a more personal level, she explained that she really enjoys seeing the sense of accomplishment and boost in confidence that learning to cook gives children and teenagers. ‘I have had several parents tell me that their moody teens have been transformed during a class as they make something delicious that gets loads of praise from the rest of the family’.

Having said all this, what Lisa believes is the most important is that children develop this important life skill ‘that will help them eat more healthily and economically and see them through college and life!’


How to get children cooking?

Some of Lisa’s top tips for getting children involved and interested in cooking are…‘Don’t patronise or baby them! With age-appropriate adult supervision, let them use the hob and knives – it really empowers them. Don’t worry about making mistakes – unless it is a drastic one (such as using salt instead of sugar) you will generally end up with something tasty even if it’s not perfect, plus that is how we learn best! Don’t be afraid to try new flavours. To do this, get them involved in buying the ingredients. If you need fresh ingredients why not combine it with a trip to a local Farmer’s Market, or if you need spices visit an Asian food store. That way you are really generating an interest in food as a whole’.


The Future

She is excitedly looking ahead to when she can do in-person classes once again. ‘I’m really looking forward to when we can get back to do in-person classes. It is easier to help people with something like pastry in person’. She will also be continuing doing her Transition Year Dinner Classes. ‘I will definitely be continuing with my Transition Year Dinner Classes on zoom in the autumn as the TY students loved being able to make a really tasty dinner for their family one night a week, and the parents loved having a night off!’.

You can view her website by clicking on the following link You can also follow her on social media by clicking on the links Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.


Jolene Cox: One Yummy Mummy Blog

Jolene Cox writes the award winning One Yummy Mummy blog. She is extremely passionate about getting kids into the kitchen, and with the help of her young daughter Lil, all the recipes are developed with the idea of making the kitchen the heart of the home, building life skills, and a family bond.

In September 2021, they are due to launch their family cooking club, but until then, they will be running a course of 7 live zoom cook along throughout the summer for all those budding mini chefs out there! Jolene understands how hard it is to keep the kids entertained over the school holidays, so her summer sessions are designed to get the kids into the kitchen, to have fun and interact with each other, while learning basic cooking skills and creating delicious treats. From lunches to dinners, savoury to sweet, there is something here for everyone to enjoy. Each course includes an hour long zoom session with easy-to-read printable recipe cards.


Importance of teaching cooking from an early age

According to Jolene, cooking is an extremely important life skill for children to learn. In her opinion, ‘cooking with kids can be so much more than just making cupcakes and licking the bowl. Getting them involved in the food prep of everyday meals from a young age not only teaches them about ingredients and where our food comes from, it also gives them life skills that they will have forever’.

Drawing on her own experience, she explained that ‘putting the tablets and the phones away (mine included!) and cooking together is just as much about building a bond by having those one-on-one chats as it is about the final creation. Entrusting our kids with little cooking tasks gives them freedom of self-expression, a sense of responsibility and self-worth’.


How to get children cooking?

In her opinion, the key to getting kids in the kitchen is to give them little jobs that are age appropriate. These are ‘little things they will enjoy doing, making it a fun learning atmosphere at home’.⁠ Drawing from experience, some ways kids can help at any age with kitchen prep include: stirring pancake batter⁠, peeling garlic and onions⁠, tearing lettuce for a salad⁠, slicing mushrooms, weighing and adding ingredients⁠, assembling pizza toppings, egg washing pastry⁠, and flouring beef⁠. She explained that as children grow, ‘they will develop the skills, attention span, and interest to do bigger cooking jobs, like cracking eggs, mashing potatoes, even breading cod/chicken’. ⁠ 


The Future

Looking ahead to the next few months, she is looking forward to launching their family cooking club this September. ‘The aim of our family cooking club is to improve the health and wellbeing of our families, empowering parents and children, giving them skills for life while having fun in a warm growing community’. Their platform is built with the whole family in mind. ‘For parents we have video led recipes, simple meal plans, ingredients that create a shopping list with one click. For our kids in the kitchen, we have child-led recipe videos, easy to read and practical kid’s recipes. We bring our community together with weekly cook along zoom classes for kids, and separate tailored classes for parents’.

She explained that it is proven that having simple recipe videos do play a role in helping to support families to cook from scratch. ‘We give a visual, reassurance, and flexibility to work at their own pace, giving enjoyment while growing confidence. The difference in our recipes is that all the ingredients can be sourced in any supermarket and can be cooked press to plate in minutes’. 

Their second cookbook One Yummy Mummy Family Kitchen is due for release in September. You can view her website here, and you can follow her on social media by clicking on the links: Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter .


 Deirdre Doyle: Cool Food School

Deirdre Doyle set up her award-winning business in 2018 ‘with the goal of educating children about food in a way that is fun and interactive for them’. Deirdre teaches interactive and fun preschool workshops in schools and at events nationwide. Since Covid-19, she brought her classes online and did a lot of cooking with children using lots of sensory food exploration, dancing, and dressing up! She works with corporate groups both online and in person, as well as doing birthday parties, school cooking classes and lots more.


Importance of teaching cooking from an early age

Deirdre thinks it is incredibly important to educate children about food from an early age for numerous reasons. According to Deirdre, ‘for children to accept new foods, they first need to be familiar with them. This can be done through growing them, playing with them, cooking with them etc. Learning about where food comes from helps to teach them a healthy respect for food, to appreciate whole foods, and promotes sustainability. Children are very invested in the environment, and this is a useful way to get them engaged in food from an angle that they are already interested in. Learning how to cook is vital for children as a way to help stem the tide of processed foods that surrounds us all. Childhood obesity and obesity in general tends to be driven by the ready availability of cheap processed foods, but if children learn to enjoy cooking, they will hopefully reach for wholefoods rather than processed foods as they grow!’.


How to get children cooking?

Some of Deirdre’s tips for getting children involved and interested in food and cooking are… ‘Get them the right equipment. I sell safe knives and peelers for children from age 2+ so this helps parents to relax in the kitchen and allows the children to explore food in a safe way! Encourage the children by cooking things that they like to start. Ask them to help choose a menu. And for parents – don’t get stressed about the mess! It will be messy – but if they are doing arts and crafts or Lego – that is also messy!’


The Future

She is currently working on several exciting projects and is looking forward to the next few months. ‘I have a children’s cookbook in production at the moment! I’ve also just finished recording video workshops that will be available for parents to use at home with their children. I’m also offering more workshops to schools starting in September!’

You can view her website here, where you can find out more about the company as well as buy their child-friendly safety knives, peelers, and scissors. You can also follow her on social media by clicking on the following links, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.



Lisa Halpenny: Kids Cook Cooking Club

Lisa has been teaching cooking classes for kids for over 7 years. She provides online cooking classes which are both fun and interactive and allow them to learn at their own pace. It can be used in whatever way best suits them. ‘We do this though a private members area where the classes are live-streamed straight from my kitchen to theirs! Kids can cook along with me, just watch and engage through our comment box, or even watch it at a later time. There is an archive and video library’.

Children of all ages take part in the Cooking Club, and the classes are done at a relaxed and slow pace so that kids of all ages can follow along. ‘The younger or less experienced cook may need help setting up or with some kitchen appliances. Older and more experienced cooks manage well on their own’.


Importance of teaching cooking from an early age

Lisa believes it is important to teach children how to cook from an early age. ‘It’s not just about cooking. It’s about giving children a sense of accomplishment, self-worth, it boosts their confidence and that is what I love most about it. Learning an important skill for life is the bonus’.

As a result of teaching children to cook at an early age, she believes that as they get older, they will have a greater awareness of where the food they eat comes from, and the benefits of consuming fresh ingredients. ‘Cooking from scratch becomes the norm when you have done it from an early age’. She explained that ‘an adult who has learned how to cook as a young person is more likely to have a healthier diet, prepare better meals for their own families, and are less likely to eat fast food. They will grow up being familiar with food preparation, have knowledge about good food and nutrition which will benefit them for life’.


How to get children cooking?

Some of Lisa’s top tips for getting kids cooking include the following:

Choose a time when the child is not going to be tired or distracted.

Don’t set your expectations too high. ‘You are not competing on Masterchef but you can do this!’

Clear your workspace and think about how long you need. Would it be easier for your child to sit at a table than stand at a worktop that is too high for them? We tend to forget that the world is mostly built for adults unless we adapt it for the children. Don’t plan for longer than an hour or you’ve lost them!’

Start with some easy recipes. ‘Don’t shoot for the stars! Make it 100% achievable for you. The outcome is the goal, success is the goal. Pick something your child already likes to eat so at least they know they will have something tasty when they finish’.

Their kiddikutter is also a fantastic way to get them helping in the kitchen and they are the only distributor in Ireland. It is an award-winning food safety knife, designed especially with rounded serrations, making it suitable for children as it will not cut their skin. You can find out more about the kiddicutter by following this link.


The Future

Lisa is always looking for new ways to get children involved in the kitchen due to the benefits it provides for a child’s development and self-esteem, as well as giving them quality time with their family. ‘It is so much more than cooking!’ She is also always looking for new content for their members. ‘We have ‘Kitchen Tips’ and an ‘Activity Corner’-all aimed at making cooking for kids easy, fun and habit forming’.

She is also hoping to grow their membership and take it outside Ireland. They have some children already joining them from different countries around the world which is extremely exciting for them!

You can view her website and check out possible membership subscription options here. You can also follow her on social media by clicking on the following links, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

It is clear to see that there are so many wonderful companies and entrepreneurs who are teaching people the importance of educating children about food from an early age and are playing an important role in educating the next generation of foodies!

By Emma Wilkinson  


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