Junior foodies…just for today or here to stay?

Friday, December 2, 2016

Once upon a time, children’s palates were often confined to burgers, chips and pizza. Now, with a growing passion for food (often encouraged by their parents), some kids are upping the stakes and playing the ‘foodies’ at their own game. Their palates are often also proving to be every bit as sophisticated as their adult counterparts.

A child in chef’s hat playing with some food

But are these new ‘junior foodies’ more than just a passing fad? One thing is for sure, kids with a passion for food are popping up everywhere.


First, there are the young food critics. Nowadays, it isn’t unusual to see ‘tweenage’ writers gracing the pages of the national media. One restaurant reviewer from New York was a regular contributor to the New York Times and GQ at just 12 years old, with his frank and accomplished reviews of some of the city’s finest restaurants.1

Then there are the bloggers. From restaurant reviewers to budding chef superstars, blogs that celebrate food through the eyes of children are hitting the big time. From The Brilliant Chef  to Wyatt Tastes Good, these are children who really know and love their food.

Let’s not forget the chefs. Sam Stern (aka The Teenage Chef), author of Cooking up a Storm and Real Food Real Fast published his first cookbook aged 14 and has become something of a publishing phenomenon.2

The ‘junior foodie’ phenomenon has even infiltrated down to school meals.  In the LACA School Chef of the Year competition, sponsored by MAGGI®, we have seen an explosion of Asian, Latin American and Afro-Caribbean dishes taking centre stage in recent years, catering for foodie youngsters from diverse backgrounds.

At the end of the day, all this talk of ‘junior foodies’ is well and good, but does it toll the death knell for the ‘old school’ children’s menus?  For good or bad, we can’t imagine burgers and chips disappearing from kids’ menus overnight. But, for now, junior foodies are leading a call for change, and signalling that young peoples’ tastes and palates are a lot more sophisticated than they had previously been given credit for.  Surely that can only be a good thing.