Chicago kids cooking for Chicago kids on the Jr. Cuisine Cooking Show

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.

Why they love to cook:

“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

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.

Kids walk the red carpet at show’s premiere

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 Parent

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 passion.”

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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