"The fun thing about cooking is that you can have fun making
food, and then you get to try it."
Valen Piotrowski, 12, Aurora
"The culinary arts are like a blank canvas that I get to
paint on with different ingredients of my choice. You're only
limited to your own imagination."
Ariana West, 13, Chicago
"It's fun to eat and cook with friends and
Jeremiah Wiggins, 12, Naperville
"You can spend quality time with your parents, and you can
have fun doing it with your friends and family. I think cooking is
amazing and you should try, too!
Brittney Heath, 13, Naperville
"My favorite thing about cooking is how you can learn
different subjects just by cooking. You can learn math by measuring
cups and bowls and you can learn reading by using
Ariana Burks, 11, Chicago
Valen, Jeremiah, Brittney and two girls named Ariana are kids
you'll want your kids to know, especially if you have budding
foodies on your hands.
The fivesome are the very public faces behind the Jr.
Cuisine Cooking Show, a Chicago-crafted cooking show for kids by
kids that shows kids (and their parents) there's something special
that can-and does-happen in the kitchen when kids are allowed to
get in on the fun.
There's probably no better time to let them inspire your
own junior chefs than in a month that features a holiday all about
food. The five mixed up two kid-friendly recipes featured here that
could be Thanksgiving hits in your house, while dancing and
laughing along with their show's theme song.
The stars of the Jr. Cuisine Cooking Show glizted and glammed it
up on the red carpet at the show's premiere in August at the
Showplace Icon Theater in the South Loop. Watch the video below or
read the story here.
Video by Liz Hoffman/Chicago
Six years in the making, the weekly PBS show that kicks
off this month is so much more than Julia Child in pint-size. It
uses kids' burgeoning interest in the culinary arts to sneak in
lessons on math, reading, science, history and cultural diversity,
says Executive Producer and Founder Cherise Ragland.
The idea started long ago in Ragland's own kitchen when
her daughter, Kierra, discovered a passion for cooking before she
could barely reach the countertops. When Cherise, along with
husband D'Shaun and her other kids, set out to fuel that passion,
they found opportunities lacking.
The seed for the Jr. Cuisine Cooking Show sprouted as
Kierra grew. Six years ago, that seed was planted when the Raglands
produced a pilot. In 2007, they launched their USA Cooking Camps
for kids and over the years, they watched the potential audience of
kids snared by the likes of today's reality TV shows like "Top
Chef" and "Cake Boss" soar. Ragland says she saw all of that as
"confirmation we're on the right path, that there are kids who love
to do this."
So the timing couldn't be better for the Jr. Cuisine
Cooking Show. In fact, 1,600 kids answered the casting call,
Ragland says. From them, 16 were chosen.
Ragland envisions families sitting down watching the show
together, sharing in the fun and creating recipes along with Valen,
the two Arianas, Brittney and Jeremiah.
Her passion for the show is palpable. She sees it as being
able to give something back, to play a role in helping kids. Her
message: "If this is your passion, you need to follow your
And Kierra? Now 17, she's the production chef assistant
and dreaming about culinary school.
The show will air Saturdays at 11 a.m. on PBS. Check your
local listings for channel information. Later this year, the cast
will find out when the show goes national.
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