My wonderful, almost eight-year-old little nephew Jacob is the fussiest eater I’ve ever met. Or at least he was, until a few weeks ago, when his preferred diet consisted almost of sweets, potato waffles, spaghetti, sausages, and cleverly mashed up root vegetables.
His parents tried everything but to no avail. Last year, I took him to a press event – a kid’s cooking class with celebrity chef Kevin Dundon – and he loved it. But he looked at me with bored contempt when I suggested that he actually eat some of the scones, stir-fry or cakes he had made.
One woman – Yvonne Rosencranz – founder of Junior Chef in Blackrock, south Co. Dublin, changed it all. I got Jacob a few Junior Chef classes for his Christmas present last year and he went over the Easter holidays. On his first day, he refused to eat what he’d made. But by the second day, Yvonne got working her magic on Jacob, and somehow persuaded him to try, of all things, rocket leaves. He also ate his own home-made chips and brought me back a sweet, gooey, chocolate biscuit cake that was as good as any fancy cafe. He was pleased as punch with himself and his attitude to food is slowly thawing. We now have a deal whereby I’ll take him to the park or get him a treat every time he tries something new; he gets both if he eats it too.
I read somewhere that kids are naturally averse to trying new foods because nature hard-wires them to be cautious about eating anything unfamiliar, lest it poison them. My other nephew, Ruben, eats pretty much everything he’s given and shares the same meal as the adults which, of course, costs less for his parents. And in the long-run, I reckon a diverse appetite must be better for any kid’s health and their future wallet.
The Junior Chef classes themselves are €30 each. Of course, it’s all about what you can afford yourself, but if you are thinking of a cooking summer camp or teaching your kids a bit more about cooking, I certainly reckon this represents good value for money.