It’s funny how every time I think everything’s gone to hell in a handbasket, there’s something to remind me that there’s still a lot of good in the world and that people do things for the right reasons.
Case in point: This past week there was a great article in Slate by Regina Schrambling about precocious kids who are being primed to be the next Escoffier, not that any of them would know who that is (Hint: He’s not on the Food Network). Her article really put into focus why all the recent hype about these kinderchefs bothers me.
I’m all for kids spending time in the kitchen and learning about food– in fact, I’d say not enough do. But it really irked me that six year old “chefs” were becoming YouTube sensations and that a 12 year old was being touted as the next Craig Claiborne. I thought perhaps I was jealous of these kids with their newspaper columns and internet shows. Afterall, I am in my mid-30s and in the process of re-inventing myself as a food writer after spending two years and a crapload of money to get a degree in Gastronomy. But it turns out, I’m not jealous of these kids, thanks to the insights in Schrambling’s article. I am, however, completely annoyed by those in our society who, in fits of contextless celebrity worship, are mere minutes away from annointing the “next big thing” even if the “next big thing” knows next to nothing about which they speak. And don’t even get me started on the parents who cashed in all their dreams to buy a McMansion in the ‘burbs and then had kids who are now just little mini-me’s living their parents lives instead of their own.
That’s why I was so heartened to see this story on CBS Sunday morning today about a boy named Aaron Ware who started a baking business. He didn’t go into business to earn fame and fortune, although he’s had some time in the spotlight lately, and deservedly so. He started baking, something he loved to do, as a way to deal with his grief after the death of his twin brother. He gives the proceeds to the organizations that helped his family during his brother’s illness. Aaron’s just being a kid, doing a kid thing and we can learn a lot more about food from him than we can any of those celebrated kinderchefs who are actually trying to teach us something.