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Food is the Great Connector, After All

After a great 2018, we reflect on how time in the kitchen (and a martini-wielding grandma) inspires the Little Sous mission.

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Where does the time go? 2018 was an incredible year. On behalf of the creators here at Little Sous, we want to thank you for being part of this lively, fast-growing community. Our mission to help families connect and learn in the kitchen leads us to all kinds of teachable moments, opportunities to cheer each other on, and the occasional delightful (and often quite delicious) mess. We couldn’t love it more. As we gear up for the new year, we decided to sit down with our founder, Kelly Montoya, for a little Q & A about why we do what we do.

What is one of your favorite memories of being in the kitchen as a child yourself?

My grandmother was a master hostess. She used to cook every Sunday (and all holidays) for her very large Italian family. I have amazing memories of her with a martini in one hand and a big wooden spoon in the other. Homemade pasta was strewn from the chairs. Everyone would get dressed up, and mealtime was a celebration of family. She’d let me make the salad and dressing, and I loved this task because it made me feel capable and included. I was five.

One Sunday after dinner, I grabbed the big, white salad bowl (made of glass) that always adorned the table at the end of the meal. My intent was to carry it to the kitchen counter for clean-up. Despite all the “be carefuls” heard from several adults in the room, I picked up the bowl, wobbled toward the sink, and fell to the floor, breaking the glass. I got four stitches in my hand that day, but my resilience was bolstered.

What inspired the creation of Little Sous?

The connection I have to my childhood are the memories that were created around food and family. It’s harder than ever for busy working parents today to fit everything in, and so we’ve learned to adapt by maximizing efficiency. Cooking with my daughter started as just that—a way to make sure I spent quality time with her while also getting dinner on the table. A few years into it, I realized just how much we had connected in the process, and how cooking had contributed to her own personal development: her creativity, her confidence, her connection to her palate, ingredients, and the broader world around her. I was inspired by the idea that if parents were reminded of the benefits and opportunities that exist in the kitchen with kids, we’d all feel a bit more grounded and more connected to one another. What we’ve set out to do is make an ancient practice accessible to modern families.

What’s different about how you approach teaching kids to cook?

We understand the barriers to being in the kitchen with kids: time, inspiration, and safety. We’re teaching kids to cook, sure, but we’re also in the trenches as parents, looking to inspire fun and togetherness for families everywhere.

We focus on fundamental techniques and food knowledge, using immersive and improvisational approaches to our activities and recipes. In other words, we want kids to learn to be their own cooks. We want them to connect what they learn to who they intrinsically are. Developing palates require patience and understanding—it can be challenging, but if you can acknowledge as a family that it really is a journey, kids are more likely to come along for the ride.

The core lessons that we provide each month are designed to empower kids to be more confident in the kitchen. Our recipes aim beyond what would be expected of “kid-friendly” food. We believe kids are highly capable. We also believe that introducing them to new cultures through food fosters compassion and empathy.

At the end of a long day, know that cooking with kids doesn’t have to be complicated. Inviting them into the process can be as simple as letting them choose a pasta shape, or allowing them to shake the salad dressing in a mason jar. To music, of course.

Did you know? Little Sous offers a monthly themed kids cooking box that will help your family connect in the kitchen. Check out our subscription options!