Rich Kids Go to Cooking Camp

By Kay Steiger

(Flickr/woodleywonderworks)

Well, the rich sure are different. The Wall Street Journal recently profiled a few cooking camps for the 10-17 year old demographic. Tuition or fees for these camps and competitions range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars:  Dorette Snover takes a group of teenagers on a 12-day trip to Paris that runs $4,750 per child; the Baltimore-based camp called For the Love of Food charges $395 for tuition; and chef Kelly Dietrich charges $2,695 for a one-week course and $4,900 for a two-week session at the Kids Culinary Academy of Vermont.

But as amusing as the story about a small army of tiny gourmet chefs is, it’s hard for me to think about the children who aren’t so lucky. America has roughly 14.1 million children that still live in poverty and an estimated 6.5 million children who live in food deserts. Even if you don’t want to talk about the children growing up in poverty, not all parents have the time or inclination to cook and teach their children to cook.

My critique of this article isn’t meant to be an attack on the rich. The parents who can afford the $5,000 tuition should by all means buy a two-week course at the Kids Culinary Academy of Vermont. But as cooking gets more bourgeois, it’s easy to remember that there are lots of children who don’t even have access to regular and healthy meals. In that light, profiling these youthful gourmet chefs is just a startling reminder of how wide that gap really is.

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7 responses to “Rich Kids Go to Cooking Camp

  1. It’s hard to cook a healthy meal for your family after working a 16 hour day because you need two jobs to support your kids. That fast food or crappy frozen dinner looks pretty good. And you certainly don’t have time to show your kids how to cook. There are just so many different factors that lead into the extremely poor diets that those living in poverty subsist on.

    Don’t worry, though, congress is on it. Or, ya know, not.

    *sigh*

  2. We really do need to start teaching our kids to cook, and I think some of it needs to be required Home Ec classes. WIC has all kinds of requirements, I don’t know why a short cooking classes isn’t one of them.

    While I agree with the above comment, there are ways to get better food on the table just as quickly as that fast-food/frozen dinner: for this, the crock-pot is a wonderful tool. I have a recipe where all the work involved is dumping beans, water, and seasoning into a crock-pot in the morning (or even the night before) and then serving it when you get home from work. There are plenty of pastas you can make quicker than heating up a frozen dinner – e.g. pasta Puttanesca (named for women who were apparently always working, and needed a quick meal)

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  4. I completely agree with you about the stark contrast between the rich kids and those living in poverty. But for me it summons up another sort of contrast, too: between kids who love food, and kids who would rather just eat macaroni and cheese every day. I love to cook now, but when I was 10, there’s no way you could have sent me to a camp where I might have to eat vegetables. I suspect a lot of today’s kids think the same way. These kids’ appreciation of food, which I’m sure is partly a product of their upbringing, is very impressive to me.

  5. Last week, my eight year old son announced “Dad, I’m cooking dinner on Thursday.”

    “OK,” says I. “What are we having?”

    “I want to cook something with that jalapeno on the counter that dried out, and kielbasa.”

    Long pause for dad. “That’s quite a combination. How are we going to put them together?”

    The answer: nachos.

    With some supervision — but no actual help — from dad, he did indeed cook the whole dish. “Let’s put some taco spices in with the meat. . . . (tastes the result) . . . Nope. Needs more kick. . . .”

    They were delicious.

    The Food Network is a lot cheaper than than these cooking camps.

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