One of the core tenets of our design philosophy at JG Studios is that a happy kitchen is the central ingredient in the recipe for a happy home. And to create a happy kitchen, you need to cater to the youngest members of the family by creating a safe, warm space where they can learn the joys of preparing food – not to mention the fun of making a mess that mom gets to clean up afterwards! (Can you say “Food fight!”?)
We’ve recently been in touch with chef Dorette Snover, founder and owner of C’est Si Bon cooking school based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She and her husband opened the doors to C’est si Bon after Hurricane Fran destroyed their old kitchen in 1997. When the family completed rebuilding the kitchen the next summer, they invited some of their son’s friends for a week of cooking.
“We combed the nearby woods for blackberries for luscious pies, and took [the kids] on adventures to goat-cheese farms…The last night we invited their parents to come to dinner and enjoy a meal cooked from scratch,” Dorette explains.
That experience led her to a new career in cooking with kids. “Eleven years later, we teach over 160 young people in the Kid-Chef day camps and over 50 in the Teen-Chef tours,” Dorette says.
In addition to residential and day camps in North Carolina, C’est si Bon offers three culinary tours for teens in Provence, the Loire Valley and Paris. Students attend cooking classes with local chefs, shop for ingredients at open-air markets and visit local cheese artisans and beekeepers.
Dorette’s approach to food is reminiscent of our approach to kitchen design, and both of us incorporate philosophies such as the slow food movement into our work. For example, provenance, which is so important to food, applies equally to physical things. Knowing where your furniture is made, being able to see it constructed, using eco-sourced materials, good craftspeople and in preferably smaller, well-managed workshops, applies the Slow Food principles to the making of things. (For more on this subject, see Johnny’s post on “Slow Kitchens”).
We’re putting together some tips on cooking with kids – and how to create kitchens for kids! As one of our clients, Tiffany Wood, told the Financial Times in a recent piece on curvy kitchens, the extra large work spaces we installed in her kitchen lend themselves to family bonding over food: “I have three children and they have countless cousins, and they all love to cook. They come and make pancakes crowded round the great big worktops – I can squeeze in 12 children round those curves.”
Stay tuned for more on how to squeeze more children ’round your own cooking spaces.