Maybe you are one of those families for whom cooking is a house-wide activity, where kids grew up chopping apples for charoset, dropping matzo balls into boiling soup, and pulling challah out of the oven. For the rest of us, imagining our teens with sharp blades, hot burners, and other kitchen dangers is only less frightening than picturing them behind the wheel of a car, driving 65 miles per hour down the freeway.
Alas, both are realities we have to live with. Yet, there’s a whole industry designed to help get them ready for the road. What about the kitchen? Believe it or not, our teenagers will eventually get tired of microwaving their meals. Plus, what would Bubbe say if her brisket recipe stopped with you?
Teaching your teen to cook may not feel as important as the exam she’s studying for, the essay he’s writing, the application she’s filling out, or the tournaments and performances they are prepping for, but ten, twenty, thirty years from now it would be comforting to know they have the skills, knowledge, and understanding to cook Shabbat dinner.
Give them the skills they need to survive
There’s no glory in living on microwaved noodles. Understanding kitchen basics—the tools and how they work, what goes into planning a meal, and how to actually pull one off—are kind of a basic need. Maybe you have enough self-awareness to realize that you—and perhaps not even your partner—are up for the task. That’s why we created a 2-week intensive culinary workshop where teens learn everything they need to be successful in the kitchen—whether or not they have ever cooked before.
Increase the longevity of your family’s traditions
From matzo balls to mandelbrot, if you celebrate Shabbat in just about any Jewish home you’ll hear about—or hopefully taste—that one recipe that has either survived generations, or definitely should. Family recipes are important—and not just because they taste good. They are artifacts of history, ties to loved ones, and, for some, possibly the only true connections to Jewish identity, which makes their preservation all the more important. Maybe Bubbe was practical enough to translate her recipe from Yiddish, but without a strong understanding of the tradition, the food, and the process, it’s hard to keep her recipe alive year after year.
Play your role in the preservation and evolution of global Jewish cuisine
Where your family lived and what they lived through had a huge influence on the foods they prepared. Whether your kugel is sweet or savory, your hummus smooth or chunky, your rugelach chocolatey or fruity might come down to geopolitical issues as much as taste. By understanding your family’s own history, you can pass it down to your children, and by working with Chef Jonathan Posner to better understand global culinary traditions, your teens can begin to see how they fit into it and the importance of the role they play in its continuation.
Whether or not your teen decides to turn his or her cooking skills into a career or even a hobby, the ability to use them for Shabbat dinner or any other nourishment and enjoyment, is one way to pass your family’s traditions down another generation.