VIDEO: Kid-hosted, kid-focused cooking show hits Chicago’s airwaves

The 16-member cast of The Jr. Cuisine Cooking Show ranges in age from 8 to 15 and come from the six-county area.

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 their own.

“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 Parent editor.

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 this fall.

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