As part of developing resources to help parents encourage their children to eat healthily, I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Becky Beasley of Two-Teaspoons.
Becky founded Two-Teaspoons in 2012, teaching culinary skills to children of all ages and I absolutely love her passion for real food and her no-nonsense approach to the art of cooking. She is an inspiration, catering for five nurseries a day and teaching toddlers to teens to cook on a regular basis. I couldn’t do it, but she truly believes that anyone and everyone can cook and there’s no doubt in my mind that if you have any doubts, she’s the person to show you how!
RFN: Hi Becky, thanks for taking the time to chat with me today. Can you start by telling me when was it you yourself learnt to cook, and what was it that sparked your passion for good food?
BB: I learnt to cook from my Mum, who also worked full time as a teacher. My parents were incredibly social, often inviting guests to eat, and the passion really came from the early recognition that learning to cook made life more fun. I always tell teenagers in my pre-uni classes that if they can cook a meal, they will never be short of friends!
RFN: Have you had many fussy eaters through your door and how did they find the cooking experience?
BB: Absolutely, from the mildly fussy to the quite extreme, but they all enjoy the cooking experience and often enough that they try the food at the end too.
RFN: That’s amazing – how do you do it?
BB: I think there are two key values that I always instil throughout a class:
1. It’s social – my classes are not “classes” as much as “experiences”; it doesn’t matter what is being cooked or whether or not it is liked as much as the whole event itself is fun. This helps the children form a more positive relationship with the dishes we’re making. I’m not the parent in this scenario, I really don’t have any vested interest in whether or not the children I teach eat the food they make, and once they know that, and there’s no pressure to try new or disliked foods they tend to relax and enjoy themselves.
2. There are no “good” or “bad” foods – I never put more value on one particular food above another. Sometimes we cook with chocolate, other times it’s broccoli; neither is more or less delicious than the other, they are just what’s required for the recipe and the focus is on enjoying the cooking experience.
RFN: That’s some very powerful psychology and a great attitude to have for building a long-term healthy relationship with food. Have you learnt anything from the children you’ve taught to cook?
BB: I never cease to be amazed by the skills of the children I teach – they always surprise me with their ability. That and never teach a couscous class unless you really love cleaning up!
RFN: I hear you there… Ok, so what’s your favourite dish to cook with kids, and why?
BB: I can’t really say I’ve a favourite dish to teach, but I always enjoy teaching them to cook things they think they’ll hate. There’s nothing more satisfying than turned up noses at the start of a class, and clean plates at the end!
RFN: And what’s the most popular class or dish for the kids, and why?
BB: Probably bread making, which I also love to teach. There’s so much fun to be had in being so tactile with the food – it’s fun, messy and a complete sensory pleasure. I also get to be a bit theatrical pouring oil on the table which also adds to the fun dynamic of the class!
RFN: That does sound like brilliant fun! And finally, can you share your top 3 tips for getting children cooking?
1. It’s important to get enthusiastic as a parent. That also means getting comfortable with chaos and mess. Cooking needs to be fun rather than a series of “telling offs”, regardless of how frustrating that sometimes is to do!
2. Let them have a say in what they want to cook. If they want to bake cookies, then bake cookies. You can also make something healthier to go alongside. Once children have taken ownership of a task, their attitude changes and that brings an enormous sense of pride and achievement.
3. Find a time when you have that capacity to cook with your kids (perhaps a Saturday afternoon rather than a Tuesday evening!) so that you’re not under any pressure, and remember that it doesn’t always need to be a huge activity – the smallest of “jobs” like peeling potatoes and grating cheese can also be great fun for children.
RFN: and I imagine that will help enormously with points 1 and 2 as well! Thank you Becky for that invaluable insight and please keep helping our kids learn to love cooking!
If you’d like your children to try out a cookery class with Becky, you can head over to her website: Two-Teaspoons to sign up. All classes are mixed age and ability (from 4 years upwards), which she says is fantastic for bringing the best out in everyone, and goes to show that it’s never too young to start cooking.
There are also some great family friendly recipes on the website that I’ll be trying out, and Becky’s shared with me a couple of her favourite gadgets to alleviate our fears for young children getting too involved. I’ll be testing these out with my kids too and will let you know how I get on.