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MINI MASTER CHEF

Two families head to hotel cooking schools as their children become holiday chefs.


WORDS: Aleney de Winter and Barry Stone

At the ripe old age of eight, my son, Rafferty, is quite the culinary connoisseur and is yet to meet a cuisine he didn’t like. He’s a fearless foodie who has devoured street food with strangers and dined in Michelin-starred restaurants with equal delight. But my mini Matt Preston is not only passionate about tasting the world’s cuisine; he wants to know where it comes from and how it is made.

Rafferty's food rules

On a recent visit to the sublime Aman Tokyo, Rafferty commandeered his dad’s place to join me on one of its exclusive signature experiences: a private culinary tour of Tsukiji Market with one of the city’s most experienced sushi chefs.

While some might think looking at a bunch of seafood on ice and some high-end sushi wouldn’t be top of a child’s Tokyo to-do list, Rafferty was awed by the ‘fish ninjas’ – fishmongers slicing massive tuna with what looked like samurai swords – and the meal of revelatory sushi, which was consumed with the utmost reverence and etiquette by my junior gourmand in the chef’s tiny highend sushiya. In fact, Rafferty rated it as his favourite experience in Japan, knocking even Disneyland out of first place.

But it was at the divine AYANA Resort and Spa Bali where Rafferty’s culinary curiosity was first aroused. Here, accompanied by one of the five star resort’s cooking school team, he received a multi-sensory introduction to the basics of Bali’s unique cuisine. After an incredible tour of colourful Jimbaran Fish Market and the nearby produce market, my chef-in-training donned a gleaming white toque and learned step-by-step how to prepare seafood nasi goreng (fried rice) and tum bebek (minced duck in banana leaf) for his first cooking class.

“My mini Matt Preston is not only passionate about tasting the world’s cuisine; he wants to know where it comes from and how it is made."

Jackson's spice of life

If your child loves to cook, Anantara Hoi An Resort can provide them a treat they’ll long remember. Spice Spoons is a one-onone, two-and-a-half-hour lunchtime cooking class in which one of the resort’s Vietnamese chefs guides them in the preparation of a mouth-watering feast, and our son Jackson took the course to celebrate his 16th birthday. For 90 minutes Jackson grates, peels and slices, cooking all his own meats, vegetables and herbs, with the addition of appropriate sauces, and learns how to create such eyecatching creations like a “tomato flower”.

When he is done we get to benefit. After all, someone has to appreciate all his hard work. So we sit in a lovely poolside pavilion with white tablecloth, fine china and all the trimmings.

The dishes Jackson created were Pho Bo, the beef noodle soup that unites the nation; Deep Fried Pork Rolls with carrot, sweet potato, taro, glass noodles, shallot and mushrooms wrapped in rice paper; and Beef Wrapped in Betel Leaf, where minced beef is mixed with herbs, lemongrass, crushed peanuts, curry powder and shallots, wrapped in a betel leaf and charcoal-grilled for six minutes. But whatever dishes you choose, Anantara will give your child an appreciation of Vietnam’s unique culinary heritage.

5 exclusive kids' cooking classes for little chefs'

Raffles Grand Hotel d'Angkor in Siem Reap offers families one of South East Asia's most bespoke cooking classes. Children five and over can join their parents in learning to create authentic Cambodian cuisine from recipes originating from the Royal Household.

The Peninsula Hong Kong's restaurants are among the most exclusive in Hong Kong, and the Peninsula's Afternoon Tea is an institution. Now kids can get a slice of the culinary action with the Peninsula Academy's Little Pastry Chef's Adventure, aimed at kids between four and 10 years of age.

The extraordinary Belmond Villa San Michele, set in a former 15th-century monastery in Florence, has a renowned onsite cooking school where children aged six to 14 can learn to make and plate Italian food. Bellissimo!

One&Only Reethi Rah in the Maldives is an exclusive oasis of serenity and beauty and a haven for foodie families. Let your kids loose in the kitchen at one of the resort's incredible Maldivian cookery classes for kids aged four to 11.

One of the most stunning riads in all of Marrakesh, La Maison Arabe offers luxurious accommodation and renowned Moroccan cuisine. Let the kids learn its culinary secrets with a private Moroccan cooking workshop in its legendary restaurant.




This article appeared in volume 8 of Five Star Kids magazine. To subscribe to the latest issue, click here.


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