ABU DHABI // Children as young as five slipped on their aprons, rolled up their sleeves and prepared to include fish, rice and olives in their supper.
About 70 participated in the Dora’s Kitchen Mission workshop booth at Marina Mall yesterday, which was set up to teach healthy eating and cooking habits to the young.
The food was not real and neither was the kitchen, but parents were optimistic that their children would learn lessons on the importance of a balanced diet.
The young chefs were briefed about the food pyramid, the nutritional value of ingredients, and they also took part in a food memory game.
“This was a very good activity because we learned we should eat healthy food all the time,” said Drish Mahajan, 10, from India who won the game.
“There were no surprises. I already knew that bread is carbohydrate, and fish, chicken and eggs have protein,” said Drish, who was joined by his five-year-old brother, Aarav.
Their mother, Harshita Mahajan, hoped her sons – who are picky eaters – would remember the “eat healthy and be tidy” message and stop asking for junk food.
“They taught them to wear aprons and hats, so they will remember this even when they grow up and they will remind us if we forget,” she said. “They sometimes ask for burgers during breakfast, which is not suitable.”
Simon Quizon, a chef at Etihad Plaza, was keen his to have his granddaughter Juliana Carlen, 5, participate.
“We want to expose her to this because she is usually alone in the house and always using the iPad,” said the Filipino national as he quizzed the child on the benefits of carrots.
“The message will register with the children because when they are small they remember.”
When a supervisor asked each child to display a protein-filled ingredient, they raced to grab miniature plastic fish out of their lunch boxes.
Dozens of families cheered as they watched their children learn to be healthy chefs.
Questioning the children on the benefits of food, another supervisor held out a carrot and asked if they knew why it was good and squinted his eyes as a clue.
“Here we have a lot of calcium,” he said holding up a carton of milk.
“The goal is to promote healthy food with children because for dinner they prepared fish and salad; so they will not be preparing any junk food,” said Svetlana Panic, a production assistant at eventboxonline, co-organiser of the event with Nickelodeon.