Vrinda Jatia, Head of Division, Cakesmiths that also runs the studio ‘Wisk’ in Mumbai’s Kala Ghoda, concurs, “There has definitely been a change in the way kids interact with food; even over the last 5 years. We have children who learn at Wisk interested in different flavours, presentation and colour as well! What children love in particular has now come to be known as ‘Masterchef Birthday Parties’ at Wisk.”
MasterChef, that’s a common reference when you hear of kids being inclined towards the culinary world. It helps that the show airs at a time that makes for convenient family viewing. Don’t be surprised if you hear kids speak of textures, acidity and complexity when it comes to their food. An aspect that Vrinda Jatia sees reflected in the classes at Wisk, where a cupcake with regular frosting just won’t do. “Red Velvet — pink frosting — chocolate strawberries; or even salted caramel cookies, sea salt brownies, chocolate caramels – it’s all about careful curation for kids,” she tells me.
This past summer saw Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal of ‘APB Cook Studio’ take things a notch higher with a 10-day workshop for kids where she taught them everything from knife skills, to kitchen safety, hygiene, breads, pastas and even ‘daal, chawal and subzi’. “We’ve held plenty of cupcake making and decorating classes at the studio, but I tend to apply a lot of what I see with my kids to my work at the studio too. I noticed that by getting them to make just treats, we are indirectly telling them that every day food is boring,” says Ghildiyal. Fuelled by extensive research that backed her belief, she felt that the every-day aspect of food is what she needed to highlight. “We did make pizzas and pastas as part of the course, but I wanted to show them that they can cook a nutritious ‘daal, chawal and subzi’ in the same time that it takes for them to get a pizza delivered,” she says. It paid-off, the class was packed and parents were more than happy to see kids appreciate what was on their plate. “The kids had to chop an onion, their eyes teared-up and one of the boys said ‘my Mom does this every day!’ I thought that was so cute,” she reminisces.
Tapping into this inherent interest that kids seem to have developed in food and cooking these days, is key. Balancing treats, creativity and nutrition is where parents play an important role, feels Chef Rakhee Vaswani of Palate Culinary Studio, who kept this in mind while writing her book ‘Picky Eaters’.
Today, kids are encouraged to step into the kitchen, explore grocery stores and spend hours leafing through cookbooks — it’s interesting to see how these budding Masterchefs will shape our culinary future. And as a Mum confessed to me after my workshop over the weekend — even if her child doesn’t go on to work in the culinary world, she’s more than happy to see her child pick up the nuances of a life skill.