Monday, September 13, 2010

Literacy in Junior Master Chef

As many of you will know, Junior MasterChef started last night. Way too late for my little ones to watch it all, so I taped it for Tom and Annalise to watch this morning.

We don’t watch much television at our place – hence our thirteen-year-old rather chunky television. But as Tom is so interested in this MasterChef series, and it is a big topic of conversation at school, I don’t mind him following it. I found the adult version earlier this year really inspiring, and I hope that my kids will have a sense of what is possible for a kid to create in a kitchen. I loved the sense of family tradition that some of the contestants exhibited on last night’s show.

So as we are likely to be fully immersed in MasterChef for a little while, I gave both Tom and Annalise a new notebook and asked them to draw and write down any great cooking ideas they had as they were watching the show. Annalise drew a couple of plates with cheese on them. Annalise has never met a cheese she didn’t like – her favourite cheese is blue cheese. I’ve said it before, this girl has taste!

Tom, no doubt inspired by the bubbling chocolate fountain, drew and labelled a plate with strawberries, chocolate and ice-cream, and was very particular when explaining the way the chocolate was to be drizzled over the strawberries. He also had plans for a fruit kebab, based on one of the contestant’s vegetable dish.

My idea is for the kids to use these notebooks for culinary inspiration, and then to build on this in the kitchen. The kitchen is such a fabulous place for learning – reading recipes, measuring with spoons, cups and scales, writing a menu or a shopping list, taking turns to do the fun stuff like cracking eggs and of course, sharing the final product.

Thanks to my generous brother SP, we have in our possession a genuine MasterChef mystery box. It's empty at the moment, but I'm looking forward to filling it with some surprise ingredients for my aspiring chefs.

I’m also keen to increase their food vocabulary, talking about food texture, presentation and flavour, but my first priority is just to find a more polite way of saying “Yuk!”


  1. Great post! Hoping my niblings take after their mother in masterchef abilities!

  2. I love this post Karen. I have a blog called Crouching Child, Hidden Vegies ( which is all about kid nutrition and getting little ones involved in the kitchen. I think your notebook idea is fabulous!

  3. We taped it here at our house too - it is on far too late for a school night. I like the idea of the notebooks. We have decided to pick one dish that has been cooked each week and replicate it in some way (either exactly or a variation of it-this will start next week). G will sometimes say 'I am not particularly enjoying the flavour of this dish'...which basically means 'yuck'! Hope the editing project is going well. KLH

  4. My two love watching the episodes of MasterChef that I have taped. At this stage however they are making some "fantastic dishes ready to plate" in the sandpit. Somehow I need to bring that into the kitchen. AT