Gallant and a brood of her students, who made a batch of energy bites and a green smoothie
ever underestimate a small pair of hands. Claire Gallant certainly doesn’t. The longtime chef—she cooked in Toronto and at Halifax’s Fid before its closure—keyed into her own kids’ keenness in the kitchen and grew it into something special, launching Bite-Sized Kitchen a year ago.
“Even at 18 months old they could stand on the stool and help mix, at two-and-a-half and three I could see how capable their little hands were and how excited they got,” says Gallant. “I’ve always been excited about cooking my own food, food from scratch and family dinner was always a big thing. I could see this way that I could try and help families figure out easier ways to bring their kids into the kitchen and help them cook with them.”
Bite-Sized started with private lessons for kids six and up and Gallant’s blog about cooking with her own kids,
but quickly evolved to include group workshops at the library, schools, A Tiny Lab For Learning, Girl Guides and at the Seaport Farmers’ Market—and to target kids as young as three. Together, they’ve made stuff like omelettes, hummus, smoothies, cheesecake, salads and pasta.
“All kids have natural inclination to play around in the kitchen and make actual dishes,” she says. “It’s about practice and also about exposure. It’s as simple as seeing your parent or caregiver making food from scratch. Kids just want to be grown-ups—if we can just give them that independence, time, space and appropriate tools—we can have high expectations of what they can achieve.”
In her second year, Gallant hopes to teach more, expand her blog—bitesizedkitchenhalifax.com
—further and work towards getting her own space.
“One of the things of note in the past 15 to 20 years in the food world in North America is the growth of the local food movement, people are really focused on food,” she says. “I think the element that’s missing there is bringing kids into that conversation. Cooking from scratch and bringing kids into it is something that I hope will start taking off.”