Strawberry and lemon flourless cake

How chef Adam Gray gets kids cooking

by Great British Chefs 20 March 2013

As part of our Cooking with Kids campaign, we’re continuing to share with you the foods that influenced our chefs when they were growing up and what they now enjoy cooking with their own children.

Great British Chefs is a team of passionate food lovers dedicated to bringing you the latest food stories, news and reviews.

Great British Chefs is a team of passionate food lovers dedicated to bringing you the latest food stories, news and reviews.

Adam Gray, the former head chef and co-owner of award-winning pub the Red Lion in East Haddon, Northamptonshire, has now joined D&D London’s Skylon on the Southbank as executive head chef. When he was young, only one boy did Home Economics in his school in the late 70’s / early 80’s, but he’s delighted that more children are getting into cookery at school and at home.

As a child he remembers his family always ate freshly prepared meals. His Dad used to grow vegetables and his Mum always made cakes and bread. “Toad in the hole was a favourite as a child. I also loved roasts and although our family couldn’t afford beef at the time, we often had roast lamb. Sitting down at a table to eat all our family meals was important and helps to give a greater appreciation of food, rather than eating in front of the TV”.

Adam now has a three year old son who often sits next to him in the kitchen at home while he’s preparing food. He stresses that it’s never too early to get children cooking. “My son has his own little apron, a small chopping board and a little plastic knife so that he can get involved. Children love copying adults, so the trick is to get them working on simple tasks. Even at three my son loves to put his hands on mine and help to roll out pastry.”

“It’s really important that toddlers’ food should have taste”, says Adam. “I find it disappointing when eating out, the kids' menus are often very bland. My son likes strong flavours and I give him small plates of tapas to try. Children’s palates develop and change very quickly, so make sure they try different things.”

Adam is a Member of the Academy of Culinary Arts and part of this involved him teaching cookery to children in an “Adopt a School Program”. He’s keen to pick this up again when he joins his new venture in London. The “Adopt a School Program” was great practice for me and a valuable experience. When my son’s older I’m looking forward to get him teaching him about different food types and where food comes from”.

We asked Adam for some of his favourite dishes for pre-school children to help cook. He said that pizza is a fun way to start getting very young children into the kitchen. If you prepare the toppings in little bowls beforehand, children love diving in, touching the ingredients and sprinkling them onto pizzas. They can help to spread the bases with the tomato mix too.

Children also really love mixing and Adam’s Cereal Bars are a perfect way for them to develop skills in measuring, chopping and stirring.