Logan Guleff Wants to Get Kids Cooking!
All images courtesy of Uncle Ben’s and CNW group.
Now carrying the prestigious title of MasterChef Junior, 13-year-old Logan Guleff has humble culinary roots. His introduction to the kitchen came at age two, when Guleff started spooning grounds into his mother’s coffee maker each morning.
“I would take two scoops of coffee, sometimes I would spill one of those scoops all over the counter,” Guleff says. “And then it was not a good day.”
Now a master of the bowtie and all things food, the Memphis-based chef is encouraging other kids to begin their own culinary journey through the Get Kids Cooking campaign. The campaign, which encourages Canadian families to cook a simple meal every week and send in their pictures, is meant to teach kids the pride that comes with making your own meals and lead them to a healthier lifestyle. Each meal they cook has to include rice, and the top prize is one of three $10,000 RESPs.
While two-years might seem a little young for a child to be helping in the kitchen, Guleff says that the task matters more than the age.
“It’s really about what you think you can handle,” he says, adding that “It’s also best to have an adult around.”
Children that start out shelling peas and shucking corn might be ready to stir, pour, or even chop within a few years, and getting them involved in cooking has all kinds of benefits.
“In the short term it really helps with their self-esteem,” says Cara Rosenbloom, a dietician that started her career at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. She compares making a delicious meal to winning a baseball game.
“When people taste it and say ‘wow, it’s really good!’ it’s that same sense of accomplishment,” she says.
If your child is a picky eater, getting them in the kitchen can help with that too. A 2007 study showed that children will be less weary of food they had a hand in preparing, especially if they helped grow the fruits or veggies.
The long term benefit shows up when children grow up and leave home for the first time. A teen whose been cooking healthy meals their entire life won’t have to rely on processed food or that infamous student staple, Kraft Dinner, to eat.
According to Rosenbloom, about 77 per cent of Canadian families are cooking almost every night, but only 12 per cent let their kids help out. One of the biggest concerns many parents have is that their children won’t be safe.
“It’s really about thinking they’ll cut off a finger or get a bad burn on their hand,” says Guleff. He argues that the real answer to that is for parents to keep an eye on their children and always make sure they’re prepared for each new challenge.
“Taking the early steps, and the little steps, they really do lead to becoming a better chef,” he says.
Guleff should know. He first stepped into the foodie spotlight during an appearance on the Today Show when he was nine. The next year, he met Michelle Obama as part of a healthy sandwich-making competition.
He won MasterChef Junior last December with an almost reckless salt crusted branzino (picture a silver fish buried under a salty blanket) that the notoriously exacting chef Gordon Ramsay called “stunning.”
In short, this 13-year-old knows his stuff.
In many ways, Get Kids Cooking is a perfect fit for Guleff. He’s already an ambassador when it comes to introducing young people to great recipes. Guleff says he receives constant messages from children explaining how he’s inspired them to be more involved in the kitchen and become just like him.
The most common recipe request he receives, by the way, is for chocolate cupcakes.
One child Guleff has inspired in particular is Rosenbloom’s eight-year-old.
“When my daughter found out I was going to meet him she jumped up and down screaming,” laughs Rosenbloom. The dietician has been cooking with her daughter for a long time, but once the two began watching MasterChef Junior, the young girl started getting a lot more ambitious.
“She can crack an egg and stir muffin batter, but suddenly she was saying ‘can we make salmon Wellington?’” Rosenbloom’s says her daughter became so interested in making this food because after seeing it on TV, she wanted to know what it tasted like.
Rosenbloom and Guleff hope that their healthy Get Kids Cooking recipes will have the same effect.
“We keep hearing that our generation is not going to outlive older generations,” says Rosenbloom. “There’s tons of research to show if you can make one change, it’s to cook more often.”
To end our conversation, which took place just two days after Guleff’s 13th birthday, I asked the young chef at what age kids are ready to use a smoking gun, one of his favourite tools.
“That’s a very advanced move there,” he says, and you can hear his famous toothy smile through the phone. As with any culinary trick, Guleff says that with a smoking gun, “you gotta know what you’re doing there.”
The Get Kids Cooking program is run by Uncle Ben’s Beginners and is currently in its second week. To enter, you have to upload information with a photo of any of the 12 weekly challenges for a chance to win. You can find out more at getkidscooking.ca.
Curious about some of the recipe suggestions you might find at the website? Check out this super easy fried rice recipe that will knock your socks off.
Chicken Fried Rice with a Pineapple Punch
Prep and cook time: 45 minutes
- 1 cup (250 mL) Uncle Ben’s Jasmine Rice or Whole Grain Brown Rice (Nutritionally recommended)
- 1 tbsp (15 mL) Canola oil
- 12 oz (375g) Cubed chicken breast
- 1/3 cup (75 mL) Chopped onion
- 2 cloves Garlic, minced
- 2 tsp (10 mL) Minced ginger
- 2 ribs Celery, sliced into 1-inch (2.5 cm) pieces
- 1 large Carrot, sliced into 1-inch (2.5 cm) pieces
- 1 Red pepper, sliced into 1-inch (2.5 cm) pieces
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) Chopped pineapple, about 1-inch (2.5 cm) pieces
- 1 tbsp (15 mL) Reduced Sodium soy sauce
- 4 tsp (20 mL) Rice wine vinegar
- 1 1/2 cup (375 mL) No-salt added chicken broth, brought to a boil
- 2 Green onions, sliced on the angle
Heat oil in skillet. Brown chicken over medium heat.
Add onions, garlic, ginger, celery, carrot, red pepper, and pineapple. Sauté for 5 to 7 minutes or until softened.
Add rice and cook for 1 minute.
Add soy sauce, vinegar and broth and bring to boil.
Reduce heat, cover and cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until rice is tender.
Stir in half the green onions and sprinkle remaining green onions overtop.
Serve alone or with a side salad and enjoy!
Nutritional Count Per Serving: 370 Calories, 5g Fat, 53g Carbohydrates, 5g Sugar, 2g Fibre, 430mg Sodium, 27g Protein.