Celebrity chef—a dad of four!—Roger Mooking dishes on how to get children into the kitchen.

Roger-Mooking

Roger Mooking’s a busy guy. The celebrity chef appears on several television shows and has a music career but at the end of the day he’s got a house full of kids and dinner to be made. Who can blame him for enlisting a little help from his girls? “I’ve got four kids,” Mooking says, of his daughters ages 1, 3, 6 and 7. “They eat a lot of food and it’s not gonna make itself.”

Step 1: Gauge interest.
Just because you love cooking doesn’t mean your kids are as enthusiastic. If your kids aren’t interested, don’t force them. Make cooking a chore and you risk turning them away from the kitchen for good. “[Cooking] was a big part of how I grew up as long as they’re interested I’m going to support that, Mooking says.

Step 2: Let them choose the meal.
Making a popular meal can be key to getting little helpers on-board. Even for Mooking, the menu can help inspire his most reluctant helper. “If I’m making something that she likes, she’ll be interested,” he says. “Other than that she just prefers to eat.”

Step 3: Assign tasks.
Once you know what you’re going to make, you can delegate age-appropriate jobs. Anything that’s not sharp or hot is good for any age. “My girls all know how to beat eggs, how to make dough and cut it with cutters for biscuits,” he says. “I’ll let them hold the measuring cup when I pour out the flour and they’ll dump it in the bowl, or they’ll use things like the potato masher.”

Step 4: Enjoy!
If all goes well, you’ll have a great meal and some good memories. “They’re my happiest customers, y’know?” says Mooking.

Get more holiday recipes and tips here: The Kit Holiday Issue.