New research from Samsung Family Hub Study has shown that teaching children to cook simple dishes before the age of eleven can reduce food wastage and enhance childrens culinary skills for later in life. Emma Spitzer has teamed up with Samsung to compile a free recipe book with these dishes for your kids to cook at home, with adult supervision of course! We caught up with her to ask her some questions on this campaign and how she introduces cooking into her family life.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I have 4 young daughters and I co-run a family travel business in addition to my cooking pursuits. I was a finalist in 2015's MasterChef, and from there I have gradually built up a career in food. I love the variety that working in food brings. From teaching, to catering to recipe development. I live in North London.
Tell us a bit more about your involvement in this project with Samsung family hub?
Samsung invited me to be part of their new initiative to encourage children to cook to launch the new Family Hub Refrigerator. As part of the campaign I have created a free recipe book of simple dishes that children aged 11 should be able to cook with some adult supervision, and presented some short video tutorials on how to cook recipes including spaghetti Bolognese, omelette and fairy cakes.
As a mum yourself how important is it that children learn to cook the basics?
As a mum, I am passionate about teaching my kids how to cook. It is a key life skill but more than that spending time with my children in the kitchen is a real pleasure. We have some of our best chats while baking!
How do you get children interested/involved in cooking?
Food and cooking is my passion and so getting my children involved in preparing family meals is a way of sharing something I love with them. It's important to treat cooking as something that is enjoyable and not a chore, so I never force my children to help but I do find that if invited to get involved they usually do! Recipes that involve decoration - like fairy cakes - are always fun. And I think children feel a real sense of pride serving a dish they have made to wider family members so getting them involved in the Sunday roast is also good.
Do you think teaching children to cook at such a young age is beneficial to them so that they can learn about maintaining a balanced diet?
I think that learning to cook at a young age will help children to understand about basic nutrition and how to maintain a balanced diet. Cooking together offers so many opportunities for teaching children about food groups and making healthy choices.
Do you think this would also help them to learn about food wastage?
We throw away so much food - according to The Samsung Family Hub™ Study UK families throw away one fifth of their food purchases each year, or over £18,000 per person in a lifetime. Teaching our children to cook can mitigate some of that wastage by helping them to really appreciate the time and effort that goes in to making meals, as well as encouraging them to try foods they might have decided they didn't like.
Why do you think that foods like vegetables are still not eaten by children these days?
I think a lot of children do like vegetables, but it is all about how you cook them! Get creative with vegetables - and remember that you can hide all manner of veg in a pasta sauce or an omelette!
Do you think cooking with these ingredients that children won't eat will help them enjoy them more?
I think that cooking encourages children to try new foods and to revisit foods that they might have decided they don't like.
Is learning to cook a good opportunity for parents to bond with their children?
Definitely yes! I love cooking with my children. It offers the perfect opportunity for chatting about their day and spending quality time together. Sharing my passion with them is very rewarding
Finally what is next for you?
I am very excited for my debut cook book Fress which is out April 17. I will continue teaching and catering and I'm also involved in some consultancy work helping restaurants design creative menus. I still love the travel business I have been running for 14 years!