Web shows aim to get kids stoked about food

  • By Bill Daley Chicago Tribune
  • Friday, March 9, 2012 6:58pm
  • Life

Will kids be more willing to mind the peas and cukes of proper eating if they’re taught to get excited about food, cooking and nutrition via their computer screens?

Two new Web series are banking that kids are hungry to know that both good food and good times can be had in the kitchen.

“Kids Who Love to Cook” is an online program that follows the basic cooking show format, with kids demonstrating recipes from start to finish, learning cooking techniques and discovering where food comes from.

Recipes range from parchment-baked fish to mini-turkey burgers to breakfast pizza.

“KickinKitchen.TV” is a self-styled “comedy-cooking mashup” along the lines of “Glee,” with its teenage cast involved in singing and comedic scenarios.

Both shows have guest stars: “Kids” features various achievers in a segment called “Breakfast With Champions,” while superstar chef Daniel Boulud and Green Bay Packer Greg Jennings make cameo appearances on “KickinKitchen.”

The series keep kids front-and-center — cooking, tasting, experimenting, interacting in fast-moving, colorful segments that focus on good-for-you food without getting too preachy.

“We show it, we don’t say it,” says Giselle Deiaco, the N.Y.-based “Kids” producer and creator. “I don’t think kids want to be lectured or scolded to eat healthy. If my mom told me that, I’d probably do the opposite.

“It’s — I don’t know — a bit holier-than-thou posturing and a tad puritanical, this healthy food monoculture.”

That translates into one cast member cooking up wiener schnitzel, mentioning it’s traditionally eaten with potato salad, and then noting she likes a green salad better. “Kids Who Love to Cook” also fosters community through its website, kidswholovetocook.com, and by offering food camps, merchandise, contests and other activities.

As for “KickinKitchen,” producer and creator Natasha Lance Rogoff says the show just doesn’t say, “here’s an egg,” but sings about it too. The healthy message is more overt but wrapped in glossy production, music and “tween-friendly” recipes.

For Rogoff, the key is getting viewers to relate to the characters, four teens who host an online cooking show, and thus become inspired about cooking, start cooking, then share videos and recipes with others at the series website, kickinkitchen.tv.

“It’s timely, topical and, as we know, people are watching these things online,” says the Boston-based Rogoff. “I think there’s a tremendous interest coming from young people now. Lots of kids are watching the Food Network. … Kids are becoming aware of food in terms of identity, pleasure and enjoyment.”

Kids wanted

Auditions are being held across North America for cast members of “Kids Who Love to Cook.” Children who can cook or bake may sign up for auditions at kidswholovetocook.com.

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