My recipe for raising a young chef

I’m a very practical mom. When I buy toys, I look for quality, play value, and overall fun for the kids (and maybe for me and my husband, too). But one of the best toys I have ever purchased was a kitchen play set.I never would have guessed that it would lead to a broader interest in cooking.

I got the kitchen for my eldest son when he was just two years old. It was pretty simple, with a fridge, a little sink and a stove a burner he could put pots on. He loved that kitchen! He played with it every day, mixing water to make tea and “snacks,” and fixing dinners for anyone who would take them.  

Pizza party!

The following year, he stopped putting things in his mouth and we were able to add some play food to the kitchen. We started with the Melissa and Doug wooden pizza set, and it was awesome. Our son used to take our orders, asking, “How want pizza, mommy?” We would always order differently. If I asked for pepperoni, my husband would order mushrooms or peppers. One of the great things about this game was that while he was having a ton of fun, he was also developing his pattern recognition as he matched up toppings with our orders. He loved the pizza set so much, we soon brought home a cupcake decoration set. Now it was a birthday party every afternoon, which worked out well because his little brother was turning one.

A Growing Menu

As the years went by our little kitchen grew into a full-blown restaurant, with our oldest boy as the chef and his little brother as the waiter. My husband and I would come down the stairs to be seated at a table for two, and we would be handed two menus, made of construction paper, with food drawn on them. Beside the kitchen, the little easel would let us know about the daily specials and prices. Then the waiter would take our order. Our meal was cooked by the chef and brought by the waiter. They had even set up their play cash register to receive payment. Of course, we tipped very generously.

My eldest is now eight years old. He is really active: riding scooters, climbing, soccer, hockey. He never stops except when he is eating or sleeping. But he is still extremely curious when it comes to food and cooking. He is always in the kitchen asking to try new recipes and helping us out. He is very responsible, following safety rules and cleaning up after himself. He has even cooked several full meals (including dessert) more or less on his own.

Now I look back at that little play kitchen as one of the best investments I ever made for my kids. For our eldest especially, it helped to spark a passion that neither he nor I may otherwise have known existed.

Be sure to check out the different types of kitchen play sets that we have, or come into one our stores and we will be happy to help you find one.