Thursday, August 03, 2006

Teaching Kids Great Food

To some it may seem like a long trek between Savoy, the elegant restaurant and shrine to sustainable agriculture in Soho famously admired by uber-critic and editor Ruth Reichl, and a storefront across the street from Mamaroneck Harbor festively decorated for children’s parties. Not to Liv Grey, a chef and food entrepreneur with a passion for connecting kids with great food and cooking. Grey, the mother of two and a veteran of the Savoy kitchen is bringing her classical cooking skills and cutting edge culinary sensibility to her work teaching kids to prepare and celebrate good food right in the heart of Westchester’s Sound Shore.

When she left behind the City and a position as a chef in Martha Stewart Livings’ kitchen for the Burbs, Liv was admittedly unprepared for the (then unknown to her but sadly inevitable) drop in food sophistication amongst her peers. She had grown accustomed to young mothers preparing their own organic food in their downtown apartments. The Burbs were filled with play dates littered with packaged snacks and junk food. What was a young Sustaindanista Mom to do?

Grey founded Medium Rare LLC, and began to offer cooking classes. This past March, together with her partner, Rachel Goldman, Grey started to hold cooking parties for kids and cooking classes for kids and teens with Goldman’s company, It’s My Party.

Grey’s classes and parties tend to bring out a certain food savvy and confidence in kids. One ten year old girl chose to forgo all of the ten choices of menus offered by Grey in favor of preparing a dinner featuring sushi and other Japanese delicacies. “Just call me Rachel Ray” insisted a twelve year old boy getting ready to show his kitchen skills at one of Grey’s classes. They may have the chutzpa of the TV food star, but the food experience Grey offers far surpasses what the kids get from watching the Food Network. For one, the children actually touch and taste real food. “You made it” is a virtual mantra for Grey, who works to instill the pride of creatorship in each young cook. Another key difference: rather than relying on the store bought short cuts, grey emphasizes that good ingredients produce good results.

Over time, Grey has witnessed a growing awareness about food in Westchester. The opening of Whole Foods in White Plains she says has made a big difference. Now parents are more often putting in the effort to seek out healthy and good tasting alternatives for their families to eat.

While building It’s My Party, Grey continues to run Medium Rare and teaches mommies and daddies how to wield extremely sharp knives and other useful techniques and essential skills of cooking and good parenting. In the fall she will begin a program to teach teens great vegetarian cooking. If her success thus far is any indication, liberation from the food domination of carnivore parents is about to sweep the Burbs.

Liv Grey
114 W. Boston Post Road
Mamaroneck, New York 10543
Phone: 914-777-RARE (7273)

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