Kids can cook

Yan Can Cook’ was one of the first cookery shows that the networks brought to India. Mothers and kids watched Sanjeev Kapur’s ‘Khana Khazana’. TV Cookery shows are the new reality TV. Kids watch cookery shows with mom and grand mom. They watched them excitedly try out new dishes.

The new MasterChef Kids season 1 is different. It has kids as experts, catapulting interest in cooking in utterly new ways. Apparently China and Japan too have similar shows. With MasterChef Kids it is one more adult bastion broken – culinary expertise! It is not about asking and receiving but about preparing and serving. It suddenly puts power in the hands of kids like never before. Pesky interference to respectable expertise is a quantum leap and one expects it to trigger a desire to try new exciting convenience foods, ingredients and formats.

It will see mothers give in to their kids’ kitchen forays more easily. Parents will call their 10 year old who loves to cook, “MasterChef” and not dismiss him for oddball. It will unleash both trial and terror in Indian kitchens. Kids have been watching these shows and are bringing taste shifts like never before. They strongly influence how families shop, cook and eat.

Two years ago, Reena, a suburban Mumbai mother shared stories of her two sons, Varun (13) and Arjun (10) who made instant noodles and packet soup. She was happy her kids were ‘independent’. When her husband was in hospital and she was away long hours, she was less worried about the kids not eating right. ‘They are packet foods but they use fresh ingredients and no preservatives. It is healthy because they are eating at home’, she says. When asked if she stocked up for the week, she says, ‘I used to buy it for them earlier, but now they buy themselves because they know what they want to eatAnd they make it for my in-laws who have started enjoyed their cooking!’

Monica, 11 year-old from Kolkata shares that her dad and she cook when mom is away. ‘It is our favorite food and we wait to cook it, and even have it for breakfast’, she sniggers, talking of their favorite instant noodles brand.  From suggesting, and pestering, to choosing, buying and even cooking and serving is a powerful shift.

Kids have at least fifty tiffin box snack options to choose from every single school day. Mom’s cooking is on trial every single day. Exposed to eating out, variety and multicultural cuisine, kids are generations ahead of their parents in food exploration. They prod, cajole, inspire and challenge mom compete for the everyday tiffin box challenge. They accompany her to supermarkets, practice their observation and reading skills, and choose new categories and brands to for the trolley.  Irrational lock-in and habits no longer rule and ‘because we always have’ is irrelevant. A child HAS no holy cows, let alone being worried about slaughtering them!

The child is the new curator of the family’s taste space, even when it comes to international gourmet food. This came as a surprise to a large gourmet food retailer who only addresses women in their communication. Kids download recipes and will often name and pronounce ingredients. Mother wants to cook what the child will eat. Now the child can cook what Mom to eat and make some extra for everyone else as well. Take a bow, kids. Its time to stand up and clap for them!

Posted by Deepa Soman

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