Chef J. Michael Of Impossible Foods On The Best Ways To Get Kids Involved In The Kitchen - Exclusive

Most parents know the struggle of trying (and failing) to get kids involved in the kitchen. Sure, cooking can be a pretty tedious process if you're not making it engaging, but there are certainly tricks to make it fun. Of course, kids usually won't be inspired to cook food that doesn't look enticing or engaging — and they will likely lose interest in recipes that might be too complex for their palate or attention span. 

However, getting children involved with the activity from top to bottom — from ingredients to presentation — is a great way to breeze past those initial objections. There's also a sense of pride that comes from working on something and seeing the results. So, what are some of the best ways to get kids to help in the kitchen?

During an exclusive interview with Mashed, Impossible Foods Chef J. Michael offered tips on getting kids involved with cooking plant-based meat and getting them passionate about the cooking process. 

Summer is the perfect time to cook with kids

Now that kids are home on summer break, it's the perfect time to start fostering a love of cooking and developing good food habits early on — especially with adding plant-based options into the mix. Impossible Foods Chef J. Michael has a slew of advice for parents looking to teach their kids a few tricks. "Get them involved! Not enough kids spend their time in the kitchen like I did when I was growing up," he said. 'The immediacy of enjoying the food will be there, but also, the long-term [and] long-lasting effects of memories attached to specific items and dishes that they cook [will happen]. Eating and sensory characteristics are one of the most powerful memories that we have ... there's nothing like building something yourself and seeing your two hands really produce something that you can enjoy."

One of the biggest mistakes people can make in teaching a child a new skill is failing to get their input to make it a collaborative process, but by tackling nostalgic faves, it can be a bonding experience. As Michael added, "I don't hear about enough kids getting in the kitchen and getting involved. You sometimes see videos online or social media where they [do]. It creates a familial memory, and it will be attached to this food, so why not make Impossible a part of that as well?

How to make lasting memories in the kitchen

Chef J. Michael's biggest suggestion is to avoid blanket advice when it comes to choosing recipes. There's no sense in following someone else's guidelines when kids want to choose their own favorites. "[With] any recipe that you do, there is an individual component that a kid can absolutely participate in. It's about challenging them every single time," he shared. "Kids with knives sounds pretty scary, but you'd be surprised at the carefulness that kids have. They know what's dangerous [and] they know what's not. I'm sure that there are products out there and methods that they can 'graduate to,' pun intended." 

Michael also noted that it's important to make children feel like a vital part of the process. "As you move along, whether it's squeezing a lemon over to finish [the dish], or whatever it might be, there is something within a recipe that can make a kid feel involved, feel important, and feel a part of the experience."

Impossible Product Communications employee Megan Collins also noted the impact of kids forming family memories. "I'll also say from personal experience, the very first recipe I ever remember cooking by myself was from a Rachel Ray kids cookbook, and it was meatloaf muffins and getting your hands in there," she said. 

Customers can search for Impossible products and restaurants here including new Wild Nuggie "chicken" nuggets. For some Wild Nuggie fun, customers can follow the Instagram pages for Wanda the Whale, as well as Rhonda the Rhino, and Tommy the Tortoise, plus Paul the Polar Bear.