Got a teen who's a dab hand in the kitchen? A career in cheffing might be just the thing for them one day. Even if they end up working in a completely different field, it's great to encourage cooking as a hobby. Here are five ways that Michelin-star-hungry teens could be helped in their dream.
Suggest they cook for a dinner party
Planning a menu – and cooking each stage – is a great way to get a feel for life in the kitchen. Let your teen scour your recipe books, then produce a meal of their design from scratch. It'll be a chance to take them to the supermarket and see everything fresh, and for them to try out new skills. For younger cooks especially, it's obviously wise to be on hand to help with anything they need while cooking. Why not invite the grandparents or other relatives over for a dinner party so your youngster really feels they're cooking for a special occasion? If your teen is less confident in the kitchen, let them help you cook, so they can just take on the tasks they're comfortable with.
Gift them their dream
If your teen loves cooking, it makes birthdays and Christmas easy. From a new crepe pan to a pasta maker, you might well want to give them kitchen items that will excite them and help them to learn new skills. Cookbooks are often another good idea. There are plenty out there that deal with beginner or very simple cooking, and others aimed specifically at young people that your teen might enjoy. A wannabe chef may well want books that have more complex recipes in them, though – even if they don't end up using them, they may just want to look at them and dream!
Treat them to meals somewhere special
People who love cooking often love food. When it's a special occasion, suggest a meal somewhere new, where your teen will be able to get a taste of a whole new set of dishes. Consider places that have open kitchens, where they'll get a real first-hand look at the job they might one day have!
Think about courses and work experience
There are so many options for enhancing cooking skills that you could suggest to your teen, from options that can be taken through school and college to one-off cookery experiences where professionals will take them through one or two recipes. Obviously check with organisers in the latter case that the experience will be suitable for your child's age group.
Youngsters will undertake work experience before they leave school, and you may want to suggest that they try and get some in a restaurant, which could give them a better idea of the environment they might end up working in if they go into chef or hospitality jobs.
Older teens could look for hospitality jobs as waiters or waitresses, for example, as an entry point to the hospitality trade.
Every parent knows general encouragement will go a long way. Tell your teen when you enjoy something they've cooked and when you're proud about what they've managed to achieve and, even if they don't end up being a chef, they'll be confident in their cooking – something that can help anyone, no matter what their career!