The Emmys didn't air until Sunday night, but on Friday, 16
Chicago-area kids glitzed and glammed it up on a red carpet of
"The Jr. Cuisine Cooking Show," a new half-hour PBS program
hosted by kids and for kids, premiered at Showplace Icon theaters
in the South Loop. The 16 cast members, ages 8 through 15, arrived
by a limo and dressed to impress, walking a small red carpet
outside the theater lined with family, friends, and this Chicago
The show is more than six years in the making, and is the
brainchild of D'Shaun and Cherise Ragland, a husband-and-wife
Chicago music and television production team.
"The Jr. Cuisine Cooking Show" taped its first pilot back in
2004 with a different cast of kids, but failed to make the PBS
schedule. The Raglands regrouped and last spring, recast the
show with 16 kids from the region.
Five kids - Ariana, Valen, Ari, Jeremiah and Brittney - form the
main cast, which cooks a new dish each week with the help of a
guest judge. Other kids play "correspondents," featuring
restaurants and reporting from the field, and make up the band that
sings and plays the show's main tracks.
In the pilot, WGN news host Julian Crews -- who also owns Old
Havana Foods, a Grayslake-based producer of Cuban food products
-- helped the cast make Totally Terrific Taco Lasagna. Cast
member Tuuli Terrill reported from Indiana's Fair Oaks Farm
on the ins and outs of milk production.
Overall, the kids are cute, the food looks good and is generally
healthy (or as healthy as cheesy lasagna and dessert empanadas can
ever be), and the local flavor makes this a fun half-hour,
especially if you have budding chefs in your brood.
"The Jr. Cuisine Cooking Show" airs Saturdays at 11 a.m. on WYCC
Channel 20 and will likely go out to national PBS audiences later
See more of Liz's stories here.
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