Pre-school participation creates a lifelong love for food

Adam Gray Website Featured

GBClogo recipeIn our second instalment from the Great British Chefs, we meet Adam Gray: former head chef and co-owner of award-winning pub the Red Lion in East Haddon, Northamptonshire. Adam is shortly joining D&D London’s Skylon on the Southbank as executive head chef. 

Back in the late 70’s /early 80’s just one boy from his school year took Home Economics. Adam Gray is naturally delighted to see that more children are now getting into cookery at school and at home.

As a child, Adam's family always ate freshly prepared meals with Dad growing vegetables and Mum making cakes and bread. “Toad in the hole was a favourite.  I also loved roasts and although our family couldn’t afford beef at the time, we often had roast lamb.  Sitting down at a table to eat all our family meals was important and helped to give me a greater appreciation of food, rather than eating in front of the TV”.

Adam now has a three year old son who often sits next to him in the kitchen at home while he’s preparing food. He stresses that it’s never too early to get children cooking.  “My son has his own little apron, a small chopping board and a little plastic knife so that he can get involved.  Children love copying adults, so the trick is to get them working on simple tasks.  Even at three my son loves to put his hands on mine and help to roll out pastry.” 

“It’s really important that toddlers’ food should have taste”, says Adam. “I find it disappointing when eating out the kids menus are often very bland.  My son likes strong flavours and I give him small plates of tapas to try.  Children’s palates develop and change very quickly, so make sure they try different things.” 

Adam is a Member of the Academy of Culinary Arts and part of this involved him teaching cookery to children in an “Adopt a School Program”.  He’s keen to pick this up again when he joins his new venture in London.  The “Adopt a School Program” was great practice for me and a valuable experience.  When my son’s older I’m looking forward to get him teaching him about different food types and where food comes from”.

We asked Adam for some of his favourite dishes for pre-school children to help cook.  He said that pizza is a fun way to start getting very young children into the kitchen.  If you prepare the toppings in little bowls beforehand, children love diving in, touching the ingredients and sprinkling them onto pizzas. They can help to spread the bases with the tomato mix too.

Children also really love mixing and Adam’s Cereal Bars are a perfect way for them to develop skills in measuring, chopping and stirring. 

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