At the recent launch of his new book, Young Chefs, Michelin-starred chef Vikas Khanna of MasterChef India, shone the spotlight on kids scaling culinary heights. “Children usually have a sweet tooth and love good food. When they get bored with regular food, they like to experiment with new recipes,” he says. Encouraged by shows like Junior Masterchef Australia and India, and with cooking classes geared towards them popping up at five-star venues across town, the trend seems to be turning into something more permanent. We catch up with some promising chefs who can wield their whisks, spatulas and coloured pencils with equal ease.
Environment clearly steered Tara (8) and Nisha Khandekar (6) towards the kitchen. “My daughter and I live in a joint family where the kitchen runs all the time. And since we have both Sindhi and Mudaliar influences, we always have different dishes cooking, right from a poha to a malpura,” enthuses mum, Yamini. While Tara enjoys turning out pastas and pizzas using her signature ‘red sauce’ with broccoli and mushrooms, Nisha has a nifty hand with poha, a crisp cucumber salad, a spicy rasam and hot appams. Both of them like baking cookies and cupcakes, watching MasterChef Australia with their grandmother, and share an affection for cooking show host, Kylie Kwong.
Pastry chef Daniel Koshy hosts a master class for kids at the JW Marriott this Saturday. Tots will master an array of treats like brownies and cupcakes. Plus, the most promising young chef gets a one-week apprenticeship with Koshy. Rs2,000. 11 am onwards. At Bengaluru Baking Company, Vittal Mallya Road. Details: 67189999
The Institute of Baking and Cake Art offers a baking course for kids where they will be given both theory and practical lessons in topics as varied as breads, sandwiches and burgers, muffins, sponge cakes, tarts, trifles, cream cakes, mousses, sugar moulding and decoration. Rs4,000. At Double Road. Details: 9341721680
Keyah Gnanakan (11) started baking her own cakes, pies and cookies at age eight. But her initiation into the warm, comforting world of buttercream, vanilla and flour was through her mum, whom she started assisting in the kitchen at age three. Being exposed to the art of baking at such a young age, Gnanakan was soon hooked and she started turning out cakes and cookies that could put any adult amateur baker to shame. “I don’t remember exactly, but I think the first cake I baked was chocolate. It was a lot of fun,” smiles Gnanakan shyly. A class 6 student at Bethany High and the oldest of three siblings, she now turns out a delectable selection of goodies, including her popular ‘rainbow cakes’. “It flopped the first time I tried. But it gradually got better,” she laughs. She also enjoys creating themed cakes – the last one a football she made for her cousin’s birthday, plus cupcakes, cookies, cheesecakes and pies. Her favourite confectionary is cupcakes, “because they are really easy to make and you can have so much fun with flavours and designs”. And does she find any one thing challenging? “I had a bit of a tussle with a lemon meringue pie I once made. But with some hard work and fine-tuning, it turned out great,” she says.
Four-year-old Ayrah Ansari chooses to bake cookies or dress cupcakes with her mother Laila who conducts baking classes for tots between six and nine. “She loves spending her time in the kitchen and is very familiar with most of the ingredients that go into cupcakes or cookies,” says her mum. Since Ayrah is still rather young, her mother helps her to set the oven, but she handles the sifting, kneading and rolling on her own. Ayrah’s favourite whip ups include strawberry glazed cupcakes, chocolate chip cookies and marzipan delicacies. And not surprisingly, we discover her ultimate role model is her mother.
13-year old Keya Matthew of National Academy For Learning has her own little baking project called Flour Garden, takes orders from friends and family, and makes time for her oven in between tests and homework. “I used to watch my mum cook and I’d want to eat everything she made fresh out of the oven. One day she told me I couldn’t eat until I helped her. So I did, and then slowly started experimenting on my own,” Matthew shares. She also sells her goodies which include a variety of breads, cinnamon
rolls, brownies, chocolate cakes, cup cakes and cookies at bake sales and bazaars around town and has raised roughly `33,000 for charity. She loves working with cho
colate but also experiments with Italian food, making her own pasta and sauces for her ravioli and gnocchi.
By Rashmi Rajagopal and Avinash Kumai