Getting your kids cooking can be fun for the whole family, but it’s also important to have a serious discussion about kitchen safety with your little chefs. Knowing the rules of the kitchen can build good habits, reduces risk of injury, and helps maintain a hygienic work environment. Rules should be based on your child’s age and kitchen proficiency level, easy to remember, and followed consistently week after week so they become habit.
Chef Tiffany Poe is co-author of The Busy Kitchen, a family cooking column that appears every Monday in the Oklahoma newspaper, Tulsa World. She offers three easy rules for a safer kitchen:
- Obedience of you’re “fired” – little chefs are expected to take direction and listen to instructions. If not, they will have to watch from the sidelines until next time. This helps maintain control and ensure that children have their ears open when it matters most.
- Sharp and Hot – Chef Poe uses her real world experience to ensure that everyone stays safe:
“[This] rule comes from the restaurant world. When you are in a professional kitchen, you have words you shout out to your teammates like “HOT” or “BEHIND YOU” to let them know of potential dangers. I teach my kids those words early. I want them to understand that the kitchen is a busy and possibly dangerous place. But, with the right communication, we can all have fun and be safe, too.”
- Ask before you touch – by encouraging her kids to ask questions before diving in, you can keep track of everyone’s activity, have more opportunities to teach, and show your little chefs that they can follow directions and still have fun!
In addition to these basic directions, Chef Poe’s piece offers more safety tips that parents can use to ensure success, along with her favorite cooking-with-kids websites. For even more advice on hygiene and age-appropriate kitchen tasks, check out the Getting Started section of our Kids Cook Monday Educator’s Toolkit.