One of my mentors who I have a considerable amount of respect for had a saying he would often say to me that eminently altered how I approached future endeavors. Although he is no longer with us today, I can still hear his humble yet prominent voice in my head saying:
“Joe, if you want to be great – study the greats. Read everything you can about history’s greats. Read everything you can on modern industrial greats. Observe any common themes that you find amongst them – then emulate them.“
I understand this is some heavy wording when referring to Masterchef Junior. But a similar approach may be taken here that might be the best place to start. “If you want what I have, then do what I do.”
Why not examine the life experience of the current prodigies that have already achieved the goal of your five-year-old?
Here are a few answers and and they all do have a common theme:
As suspected, it does not appear that any of the current contestants were shipped off to a kiddie Le Cordon Bleu.
The common theme we can observe by these answers is that cooking begins in the home. I believe attending some workshops is a great supplement, however, if the child is going to reach the high level he/she desires, I do not believe only attending classes would scratch the surface.
Most of what I am saying can be applied to a five year old just as much as it could be applied to an 85 year old. A five-year-old would benefit best from continuous application and practice of the technical aspects of cooking as opposed to the theoretical aspects.
Though seemingly unrelated, I urge you to keep an open mind to this reference. If you have seen the movie “Coach Carter”, you may remember the scene where he says to his young recruits:
“I cannot teach you the game of basketball until your conditioning is at a level the allows me to do so.”
Learning to cook is not a craft that can be learned from television or textbooks. It is through repetition, attention to detail, and consistency that allows a person to reach a level where they are able to implement the theoretical elements of cooking, simply because they are thoroughly equipped with the technical necessities. If given the task of finding the most fitting solution to this question, I would make them my new little protégé in the kitchen nightly. “All right little man/woman, I need 4 carrots peeled, 10 potatoes peeled, and 4 tomatoes cubed up. What do you say?”
Not only do I believe this to be the best method of training, but as a side bonus you will have the ability to build some of the most beautiful memories a mother and child can have. Some of the most cherished memories I have of my childhood are the countless hours I spent in the kitchen as the “assistant chef” (as my grandmother loved to smile and call me). There are few activities a family could engage in that builds greater bonds than cooking.
A patient parent enlisting their child’s assistance in the kitchen is the optimal method for any child to obtain hands-on training. By doing so, their kitchen awareness and technical abilities will be brought to a level where, perhaps when further culinary experts attempt to mentor them, will allow them to do so.