The Kids’ Table Celebrity Chef Series: A foodie adventure for Chicago kids

Between its two locations (Wicker Park and Lakeview), The Kids’ Table manages to keep a group of lively 4- to 10-year-olds sitting down at the same table while enjoying the journey of cooking up a wholesome dish. Their motto: To make the world a better place, one delicious dish at a time.

Preview of some of the menus for upcoming weeks:

Week of 2/29: Dahl Makhani with Cumin Rice

 

Week of 3/21: Spiced Poha (Flattened Rice)

 

Week of 3/28: Roasted Corn Relish & Mango Mint Soda

 

Week of 4/4: Indian Pudding & Lime Soda

 

Week of 4/18: Pineapple Fruit Tangy Salsa & Watermelon Soda

 

Week of 5/2: Creamy Polenta with Braised Greens & Mushrooms

 

Week of 5/16: Roasted Asparagus Lasagne

 

Week of 5/23: Best Fruitcake Ever

 

Every week during the new Celebrity Chef Series, a different recipe by some of Chicago’s greatest culinary minds is featured, and as a special altruistic touch, 10 percent of proceedings benefit a charity of each chef’s choice.

My 7-year-old son and I stepped into a room full of eager little chefs during our visit to The Kids’ Table. Parents are welcome to drop off or stay. I decided to stay and witness the kids’ cooking abilities.

Our week’s recipe was Potato Pancakes by renowned local chef Helen Cameron, co-founder and owner of Uncommon Ground, a seasonally-inspired restaurant. Proceeds benefitted Growing Home, a Chicago non-profit offering farm-based training for people with employment barriers.

One of the chef instructors, Registered Dietitian Liz Sommers, started off by introducing the ingredients and materials the kids would be using. I could tell everyone couldn’t wait to take part in the hands-on experience.

Soon enough, the room became as dynamic as ever, with the kids excited to hold their wavy knives, also known as “bear claws.”  They started chopping and mixing their way into the dish of the day, going through onions, garlic, parsley, eggs and flour as instructed, all while learning fun facts about the ingredients. It was a feast of colors, textures and smells; food education at its finest!

Finally, once all the ingredients had been chopped and mixed, another instructor cooked up the dish while the children help to clean up. Dishwashing, table wiping and sweeping. I must say, I was impressed to see everyone listen to directions and work together to get the room ready for their meal.

Then came the last component of this foodie adventure: savoring! Delighted to see the fruit of their work, the kids all sat down to enjoy their dish. Side note: Potato pancakes, you are delicious, and we love you.

The one-hour session ended with a recipe card to recreate the meal at home.

My son tells me he’d like to go back. He couldn’t get enough of using his bear claw to chop onions. I learned that one should never undermine children’s skills in the kitchen. Kids CAN cook!

Now through June, kids can join the Celebrity Chef Series at the Kids’ Table. Sign up for the weekly series or single classes.

Next up are recipes from Anupy Singla, creator of the brand Indian as Apple Pie (sold in Whole Foods); Chef Jill Houk, author of “The Complete Soda-Making Book,” and dishes from the “Green City Market Cookbook.”

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