Today Show Chef Joel Gamoran Details The Appropriate Age For Teaching Your Children How To Cook - Exclusive

You've got to be 16 in most states to be allowed behind the wheel of a car (per VeryWellFamily), so how old should you be before you can get behind the island of a kitchen? With hot pots, sharp knives, and the likelihood of spills and broken glass, cooking isn't child's play – or is it?

According to "Today Show" chef Joel Gamoran, the kitchen indeed is the perfect place for kids, even toddlers. The key is to give them age-appropriate food prep tasks, he explained in an exclusive interview with Mashed. So how young can a kid get started? "I'm going to say one and a half, now that I'm a dad. One and a half," said this dad of two young boys. "Maybe even one, where he's sitting next to me and he's doing things like just chewing on an orange, while I'm asking him if I can zest it. So just getting them comfortable in the smells, letting them hold something with different textures, has been really, really beneficial."

How Chef Joel Gamoran balances his career with being a dad

Teaching his toddler to appreciate orange zest is certainly not the only responsibility on Gamoran's proverbial plate these days. In addition to being a frequent guest chef on the "Today Show," Gamoran snagged the ultimate "dad gig" this year when he was asked to film recipes with "Sesame Street" characters Elmo and Cookie Monster, which you can now download on the Yummly app. "I have a 2-and-a-half-year-old son and I have a 9-month-old son, and ... I mean, Elmo is God to them," Gamoran quipped. "They sleep with Elmo. Elmo goes to the bath with them. Elmo goes to the park. So when I told them that I was cooking with Elmo and Cookie Monster, it was basically like I'm meeting the Pope."

Of course, cooking with Muppets (not to mention Hoda Kotb) is how does Gamoran balance his television career with taking care of his little ones? "It's been really tough, just like anyone else in their jobs, I think," Gamoran revealed. "You have to prioritize. I'm really big on ... at 5:00 to 7:30, it's dead zone for me. Cause I'm with my kids doing Legos or building tents, or doing a bath time or something like that." This has meant "saying 'no' a lot more to things, unfortunately," he explained. "Usually, I was a big 'yes' guy: 'Oh, do you want to fly and do something here? Or do you want to be a part of this festival?' And now, unfortunately, I have to say no to a lot of those." 

Collaborating with Yummly to film with his kids' favorite characters was a no-brainer. Gamoran added, "So it's just picking and choosing, and obviously something like participating with Yummly, which is a company I've been a part of and collaborating with for years, and then working with Sesame and LACTAID, that's something you're not going to ever say no to! That's happening. So this is an easy 'yes.'"

Catch Chef Joel Gamoran on "The Today Show" and watch him demonstrate kid-friendly recipes with Cookie Monster and Elmo on the Yummly app.