Cooking and sharing: My Food Revolution Day 2013.

Real food dinner for Food Revolution Day 2013 crunchy garlicky chicken and oven baked potato wedges with salad by Mardi Michels

See that up there ^^^ ? Dinner, made by 5-10 year-olds. Real food. Crunchy garlicky chicken fingers and oven baked potato wedges served with a salad. Sounds simple huh? Well, yes, that was the idea behind my menu choice for both of my Food Revolution Day 2013 activities I hosted – both parent-child cooking classes – one at my school with 19 of my Petits Chefs and Cooking Basics guys and their families and one at The Kitchen Studio for 5 kids and their family members.

When I was choosing the menu for these events, I wanted something that 1. I knew we could pull off in a couple of hours, 2. That the kids would want to eat, 3. That the parents would want to eat and 4. That the kids would want to make again by themselves. A healthier version of chicken fingers and fries certainly checked off all those boxes, though on reflection, given we made one dish at the school and Kitchen Studio Food Revolution events last year, I am not entirely sure what I was thinking with three separate components.

I know my trusty helper and fellow Toronto Food Revolution Ambassador, Adell Shneer, thought I was a little crazy when I sent her my “play-by-play” sheet for my school event with everything timed down to the minute. Her response “That looks great, hope we can keep to schedule.” Haha!  But as Adell and anyone who has been reading my blog for a while will know, I don’t like to dumb things down just because I am cooking with kids. If you raise the bar high, they will absolutely come up to meet you there. In my mind, I guess I wanted to show people that making a healthy family dinner not just for but WITH your kids is possible. Getting families back in the kitchen, cooking and eating together is one of the premises of Food Revolution Day and one I wanted to really embrace this year.

Food Revolution Day 2013 pass it on cooking class

Last Thursday, nearly 60 boys and their family members gathered in our school dining hall to cook and eat together. Guided by the calm, organised Adell, the boys and their families worked through the three meal components in just under 2 hours. Pretty amazing, and made possible with A LOT of help – as well as Adell taking complete charge of the “lesson” part of the evening, I had the ever-calm Michelle (who works with the boys in cooking club every week alongside me), Emilie and Janet (who helped this year with the Cooking Basics club), my mum (because there’s nothing like coming on vacation and being put to work!) and Jacquie and Steve (who, although they were there cooking with their own kids, were able to lend a hand where necessary). A special thanks to Chef Corey who helped me with my food ordering (and countless other tasks) and Karen who just listened and nodded as I planned out my event so she could get the facilities organized, not batting an eyelid at the craziness of it all! The Petits Chefs themselves helped out setting up the dining hall too – it really was a team effort.

Food Revolution Day 2013 pass it on cooking class2

Cooking with that many people really does require some planning but as Adell said, if you start with a decent recipe, you’re halfway there. Apart from the fact that choosing recipes from the Food Revolution cookbook seemed a natural thing to do for a Food Revolution event, I happen to love the cookbook. It’s real food, made simple. Not simplified, just made do-able and approachable. For anyone.

Food Revolution Day 2013 making oven baked potato wedges by Mardi Michels

I mean, how can learning how to make French fries from scratch be a bad thing? Especially when there’s no frying involved.  The boys particularly loved these (as I imagined they would). If just one of the boys encourages a parent to make these again, I’m happy. But I am sure there will be more.

Food Revolution Day with Adell Shneer Toronto by Mardi Michels

Food Revolution Day 2013 zesting lemons by Mardi Michels

And really, a lesson where you get to get your hands all “goopy” with egg, flour and cracker crumbs? The best!

Families cooking dinner for Food Revolution Day 2013 by Mardi Michels

I loved wandering around the room watching parents and their kids hard at work making their dinner. I tried not to intrude too much as they caught up on each others’ days. And, in fact, I didn’t have to. After having the group lesson with Adell, the boys were fairly independent at their stations. I barely had to help at all. Made me so proud 🙂

Families cooking dinner together for Food Revolution Day 2013 by Mardi Michels

Watching these boys and their parents create this meal, then sit down to eat it together might sound like a small drop in the Food Revolution ocean but imagine if we all stopped to cook and eat together just once a week, what a difference that would make. The Food Revolution is not about big changes once a year, it’s about small changes often. I hope the boys and their parents will look back on this evening remembering how much fun it was and be inspired to cook a meal from scratch at home.

Breading chicken for Food Revolution Day dinner by Mardi Michels

The following day, on Food Revolution Day, I did the class all over again. I was very lucky to have the support of The Kitchen Studio, The Cookbook Store, Sobeys  and Yorkshire Valley Farms for this public parent/ child cooking class.

Food Revolution Day sponsors The Kitchen Studio The Cookbook Store Sobeys Yorkshire Valley Farms Mardi Michels

With just 5 kids and 6 adults, it was a much smaller operation but not without its challenges – cooking with kids you don’t know is a little nerve-wracking (“Will they listen to me?!”) because apart from anything else, it’s hard to predict what their skills will be in the kitchen.  I love the space at The Kitchen Studio as it’s just like cooking in a home kitchen so it’s not at all intimidating which is important when you have a group of kids who don’t know each other (or me!) cooking together.  In any event, I should not have worried – we had a wonderful group of enthusiastic, interested kids which great “can do” attitudes – they jumped right in at every task and completed this meal in a little over 2 hours. Given there were 5 and 6 year-olds in the group, I think this is mighty impressive.

Choosing veggies for salad for Food Revoltuion Day 2013 by mardi Michels

From the potatoes to the chicken to the salad, these kids worked hard and learned some great basic kitchen techniques on the way.  Slicing potatoes into same-sized wedges so they’d cook evenly…

Cooking with kids cutting potatoes

Oiling the potatoes so they were evenly coated in the drizzle of olive oil…

Cooking with kids oiling potatoes for baking

Crushing garlic (and hey, I think a couple of the adults learned a trick or two here!)…

Cooking with kids crushing garlic

Crunching crackers to make crumb coating for our chicken and picking leaves off the thyme…

Cooking with kids preparing crackers and thyme for breading chicken

Zesting lemons and chopping butter…

Cooking with kids preparing butter and lemon zest for breading chicken

Slicing raw chicken into even-sized fingers… (these kids were great about touching the chicken – even some of my Petits Chefs are still working their way to feeling ok about touching raw meat!)

Cooking with kids cutting chicken

And then the fun part: coating the chicken in flour, egg and the cracker crumbs…

Cooking with kids breading chicken

While the chicken and potatoes were cooking, we made a huge salad together..

Cooking with kids making salad

And then (finally!) we sat down to eat… The meal was truly delicious.

Food Revolution Day 2013 at the Kitchen Studio Toronto

By the end of the night, we had settled into a comfortable rhythm and it felt like we had been cooking together for ages. Food and cooking really do have a way of bringing people together. And that sense of community, coming together over a meal prepared together, is totally what Food Revolution (Day) is about.  I’m excited to continue working as an Ambassador for REAL FOOD. Because nothing is more important than cooking it, sharing it and passing it on.

Food Revolution Cookbook giveaway (worldwide) Edited to add: Contest closed, thanks for entering!

Thanks for the generosity of The Cookbook Store, I have one copy of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution Cookbook to giveaway –  to anyone, anywhere in the world (I’m covering the shipping).

To enter, leave me a comment and tell me how you embrace Cook it. Share it. (Who do you pass on your knowledge to?)

For a bonus entry, tweet the following message:

I want to win a copy of the @JamieOliver @FoodRev cookbook from @cookbookshop + @eatlivtravwrite #FRD2013

Then come back to leave me a message telling me you did.  Contest closes on Monday, May 27th at 6pm EST and the winner will be chosen via and emailed on Tuesday May 28th.  Good luck!

* Canadians: Have you entered my Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer and attachment giveaway yet? Closes May 29th 2013 at 6pm.

**  Hey Canadians, there are some cool prizes to be won over on the Canadian Lentils Love your Lentils site – a blogger, a home chef, and a voter will all win the chance to join Chef Michael Smith in Saskatchewan on June 23, 2013 for a culinary adventure. I have two recipes in the running!

Red lentil carrot soup with orange and cardamom
Lentil-ricotta gnocchi pan-fried in tumeric butter


45 thoughts on “Cooking and sharing: My Food Revolution Day 2013.”

  1. I love what you’ve done with these kids in the kitchen, Mardi. Such valuable knowledge and skills you’ve passed on to them! I try to do the same with my friends and family – when I’m passionate about a certain dish, I share! And make sure they indulge 🙂

  2. I definitely do my best to cook it-share it. Primarily with my family but there would be a few friends and colleagues in the mix also. In addition to cookin and sharing it, I try to focus on the importance of fresh, local ingredients. On Food Revolution Day, we enjoyed fresh Ontario asparaugs, straight from the farm — does it get any better?

  3. I LOVE to share what I know about cooking with my two daughters. It’s the biggest compliment when they call and ask for a certain recipe.

  4. I wish there were cooking classes like this when I was in school- awesome. What a great learning experience. Mardi, do you ever slow down?!

  5. I cook and share with my little cousins! They looove to help me bake, learn and eat!! Last we year we made many fruit desserts including a plum cake and lemon tart. I can’t wait for this summer!

  6. I pass on my limited knowledge to my sister, who is already a much better cook than i will ever be.

  7. Mardi, this is an AMAZING event you put together! Wow, this post blows my mind. And french fries without frying, that´s even better.
    It was so great to take part in the Cook it. Share it. I baked bread, one from Jamie´s first book for my spanish blog, and a cheese one from Dorie´s. I´m constantly sharing the food I make for my blog and teaching my mom how to bake…
    Have a great weekend!

  8. You are definitely passing it forward, Mardi. Cooking for your family can never start too early. I cook it and share it by trying to encourage my friends that don’t like to cook and giving them confidence to try simple things they like to eat. Your Petits Chefs made a meal that anyone would want to eat.

  9. I embrace Cook it. Share it. but passing on my knowledge to my son. My son really loves to cook with my husband…. probably even more so than with me! 🙂

  10. I encourage my kids to bake, be comfortable with the oven and reading a recipe. If they can cook for themselves and enjoy it, they will thrive. Great post, loved seeing all the little hands involved in the meal.

  11. I love to share my knowledge and cook it share it with all my friends and often even my boyfriend! I also share things with my mom

  12. I love to share my cooking knowledge with my sons. My youngest is really into it. he asks tons of questions and really pays attention when I’m cooking.

  13. Do you know how hungry I am after looking at this post?! This meal looks delicious and I am glad those children and their parents got to share that experience together.
    I am passing on my knowledge to my son and he is just starting out but he loves mixing cookies with his mom!

  14. I’m currently in the process of collecting all our cherished family recipes. I hope to put it in book form (like a blurb book) for future generations to share and enjoy as much as I do!

  15. I pass my knowlege to my little nes and husband. I love trying new recipes and meeting new vegetables totry. Right now we are loving our just discovered kale 🙂

  16. Nice post! My kids love working on meals with me in the kitchen! I love that they are understanding what goes on their plates come from somewhere and it’s not just what gets shoved in their mouths to fill their bellies.

  17. I definitely had all tree of my children cook with me when they were little. They’re grown now, so I pass on my cooking to others (no grandchildren yet 🙁 ). The group I worked with had lunch together once a week; and as we were quite a global group a lot of knowledge was passed around from all sources!

  18. Mardi, this is so fun! I actually started out as a Home Ec teacher, but it wasn’t for me. I do get credit for teaching the next generation in my family to cook (they’re good!) – oh, and food (and how to cook it) is one of the hot topics on my jobsites (I’m a construction manager building industrial buildings) – go figure that so many men want to bake bread, and make other recipes… it’s a fun world out there. I know you’re helping get that next generation going. Excellent!!!

  19. How fantastic! 🙂 I love that there is this movement, and until I participated in the Food Revolution Day, I didn’t know it existed! I have always been adamant about keeping Mei & Emily with me in the kitchen, watching me cooking and helping when and as they can and now, we have been having a bit of a learning curve as we will catch Mei in the kitchen with the egg carton open, cracking eggs into bowls or onto plates and making a disaster of the place, since she includes both the shells and the eggs in the bowls and trails the eggs around the kitchen while she tracks down whisks and other utensils and things like flour, sugar and cream so she can “cook”… and she’s only two! Think of the messes we will be cleaning up when she’s three! LOL!! 🙂

  20. What fun it was to have the opportunity to see these Petit Chefs in action once more.
    As always they were impressive, but to see them guide their parents and families and sit down together and enjoy the fruits of their labour was wonderful.
    Mardi has done an exceptional job with these boys.
    They are confident, competant, and not afraid of tackling any recipe.
    It is a huge credit to her that they have become such great young cooks and I am sure will pass their skills on to future generations.

  21. Hi, I love baking with my daughter-she is now 3, and I would love to include her when cooking dinner as well. At what age would you say a child is generally ready to handle a knife? Thank you!


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