Creative Kitchen Founder Cricket Azima Discusses Cooking Tips & Tricks
December 20, 2020
“They say it's the little things that are remembered thru time. But I can’t imagine one wouldn’t remember a family cooking class with Cricket Azima. She is full of energy, wildly creative, masterful with kids and a superb chef. ” Cricket Azima, chats with her long time friend Elisabeth Jones-Hennessy to talk about her company, and how it all came together.
How did you first get involved in cooking?
My mother was not much of a cook... unless opening a can of tuna is considered cooking! I think her aversion to cooking directly fed my desire to be a good cook, plus, I was sick and tired of canned tuna. I will add though, that her good taste in food when we dined in restaurants and traveled directly impacted my love for the culinary arts.
Did you always know you wanted to teach children how to cook?
I've always loved to cook and eat, and was at a crossroad in my career, trying to decide between becoming a chef or an elementary school teacher, when it hit me – I can do both! Now, The Creative Kitchen teaches children about food. Talk about having your cake and eating it, too!
What is the biggest misconceptions about cooking with your kids?
That kids don’t like fruits and vegetables. Generally speaking, kids will eat what they’re exposed to - and what they watch their parents, who are their biggest role models, eating. I find myself often reminding parents that they need to eat their vegetables too, if they want their kids to follow suit!
Any helpful advice to parents with kids who have finicky eating habits?
Almost any food can be exciting to kids if presented correctly! The challenge is exposure. Children typically don’t like foods they’re not familiar with. But, once a child gains that exposure with a food, he or she is much more comfortable with and open-minded to eating it.
What surprises you most when you are with kids cooking and teaching about food?
The parents! I’ve found that it’s usually the parents that are actually the most hesitant about introducing new foods to their kids! One of my favorite anecdotes from my career is about a Dad who went to pick up his child after one of The Creative Kitchen’s cooking classes and was shocked to hear that his child loved the eggplant in the dish we made together. “You made something with eggplant?” he asked, with a squished nose. I sent them home with the recipe and the next time I saw the father, he told me they cooked again at home and he now LOVES eggplant, too! I think that is a true testament to the power being open-minded about trying new foods!
What is the best age to start your kids in the kitchen?
At The Creative Kitchen, we start teaching kids at age 2. Who is your favorite Chef? My favorite chefs change as often as my favorite foods :). It would be unfair to select just one, when there are so many chefs who's outstanding dishes I’ve tried - whether coming from a small family-owned establishment in Chinatown or a Michelin-starred restaurant in the south of France.
What is the one ingredient you use most often when preparing a dish?
Cheese! We also joke in my household that we’re all part mouse, as we’ll eat cheese at every opportunity and with almost every meal.
What do you most enjoy about teaching children to cook?
I am overwhelmed with satisfaction when I see a student’s eyes light up at the discovery of a new food or ingredient, especially one that he or she thought they wouldn’t enjoy. I am also pleased to be able to share this news with parents, who I often find are a bit leery of that food or ingredient themselves!