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Cooking heats up with the young

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Food shows on network TV and online streaming services like YouTube have exploded recently and many kids are becoming so interested in cooking that an entire industry has evolved around preparing these children to become future chefs, according to Flowjournal. Food Network, a channel devoted entirely to food-centric programming, has found that 60 percent of kids in the 2-to-17 age bracket are watching shows with their parents. Their popular MasterChef Junior franchise, headed by Gorden Ramsay, pits the culinary skills of children ages 8-to-12 against each other. It has now finished its sixth season.

Outside of watching videos, many children now have access to culinary camps and programs, some of them run by celebrity chefs. Duff Goldman, made famous by his show ‘Ace of Cakes,’ runs a Summer Cake Camp out of his Cakemix locations in Los Angeles that allows children to have fun and make a mess while learning serious skills to make them better bakers. For those that live too far away, there are also subscription boxes from companies like Foodstirs. The company will send a new kit every month based on different baked good themes that allows children to cook something fun with their families.

While talented young home cooks are making a splash on TV, critics of the shows think that they place too much emphasis on the competition rather than letting the kids simply have fun. Others point out that competition can help make everyone stronger in the long run and have compared the participants to other young phenoms in the sports and arts arenas that are praised for their dedication and skill. In general, child chefs tend to be more supportive of one another, even while competing, and frequently display a high level of sportsmanship among their peers.

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