Kate Wengier Making Food Fun Interview
Making Food Fun creates Fun Food Experiences for children aged three to twelve and their families, but people of all ages will create an audience. Kids join the Colourful Chef™ on an interactive cooking adventure featuring healthy local produce. Each child individually prepares their own dish to try and participates in senses challenges (e.g. guess that food smell). All sessions are designed by Kate Wengier, trained dietitian and mother of four.
Meet the Colourful Chef™ as he entertains kids, teaches fun five finger hand washing and introduces ingredients. Budding chefs don aprons and chef's hats while learning facts about ingredients, food safety and nutrition. Kids enjoy a multi-sensory experience of food and get to sample their creations and take home the recipe.
Recipes use healthy, naturally colourful and seasonal local ingredients. Menus include sushi, dips, wraps, layered fruit salad crumble, rice paper rolls. Where possible, ingredients are natural and locally produced. Take home recipe sheets are provided. Menus can vary daily.
Sessions and recipes are tailored to your event. Themed classes are available (e.g. festive foods or Mexican). We can work with local suppliers to create recipes featuring local ingredients. Sessions run for 20 min - 1 hour sessions (no oven required). Multiple sessions daily.
Other Fun Food Activities
We offer a range of Fun Food Experiences. Food and cooking related activities include chef's hat decorating, senses trails, senses activities, cooking demonstrations and vegetable character competitions.
Key Messages and Outcomes
The focus is engaging young people to have fun through involvement in a multisensory, entertaining and educational experience of food. We guarantee you'll receive positive feedback from participants, parents and passers-by, impressed to see kids cooking naturally colourful food.
Interview with Kate Wengier
Question: What inspired you to begin Making Food Fun?
Kate Wengier: I am a dietitian and I used to have my own private practice for adults clients. I always thought that when I had kids they would be great eaters, that I'd have no problems. I'd studied it in uni, I'd read all the books and was up to date on all the latest research. Then I had kids! I have faced and continue to face the same challenges with feeding my kids as everyone else!
So I put my training in health promotion, nutrition and dietetics together with my experience as a mum (I now have 4 kids aged 7,5,2 and 4 months) to create Making Food Fun.
Plus, nutrition information can be a bit preachy, sometimes just a little boring and not always practical. So we're changing all that - even for the adults! Making Food Fun!
Question: What is Making Food Fun?
Kate Wengier: Making Food Fun inspires people of all ages to create healthy habits. Having fun with food, healthy food, colourful food. We run kids cooking classes at festivals, events, schools, kinders, school holiday programs and parties. We also run corporate cooking and nutrition sessions.
Question: What is your main goal for Making Food Fun?
Kate Wengier: To get Australian families eating more colours (fruits and vegetables). To show people that healthy eating, meal times and cooking can be easy and fun!
Question: What guidelines do you following when organising meals and recipes for Making Food Fun?
Kate Wengier: Most importantly recipes need to be colourful! We focus on wholegrains, healthy fats, low fat dairy and sometimes include fish and lean meats. We source local ingredients that are as natural (and free from artificial colours and flavours). We are often catering for allergies or intolerances and all kids recipes are nut free.
Question: Why is it important that each child individually prepares their own dishes?
Kate Wengier: The more kids are involved in the meal preparation process, the more likely they are to try the food. We have many parents come up to us after sessions and say "wow, he ate fresh beetroot and liked it", "I can't believe they tried that vegetable" or "I've been trying to get her to eat cantaloupe for years". Kids often say "now I like red capsicum" or "I'm trying sushi for the first time and I like it".
At home, kids are often involved in helping with baking but to prepare a dish all on their own is a great achievement, they can be proud of their creations.
Kinders often cook in small groups but we allow everyone to cook together which is really fun!
Question: What recipes are typically created during a Making Food Fun session?
Kate Wengier: Our most popular recipes are sushi, wraps and fruit salad crumbles. We also do themed recipes, like Smoked Salmon pasta salad (for a festival in Tasmania) and Christmas recipes.
Question: What nutritional advice do you give the kids participating?
Kate Wengier: We have a couple of golden rules for eating. The first is to be colourful - eat lots of different colourful fruit and vegetables. We even have own on Colourful Chef to explain why our bodies need different colours.
We also encourage them to "be courageous" and be brave and try new foods.
Question: Why is it important that kids receive this type of nutritional advice at a young age?
Kate Wengier: Research shows that dietary habits track throughout our lives. That means that if you eat lots of fruit and veggies as a child you are more likely to continue to eat them throughout your life into adulthood. Everyone knows how hard it is to change an unhealthy habit, so rather than try and change a habit that is ten, twenty maybe even fifty years old, it makes more sense to establish healthy ones from the start.
Question: What do you believe makes up the perfect lunchbox?
Kate Wengier: Wholegrains, some protein and/or dairy and of course lots of colour! So my kids take some fresh fruit, some fresh veggies, a cheese stick and a wholegrain sandwich.
Question: How can parents engage their children in helping in the home kitchen?
Kate Wengier: Get them to help with dinner, not just baking. Younger kids can wash fruits and veggies, measure, mix ingredients, roll meatballs, crumb chicken or fish, arrange a salad. We sell kids knives so that younger kids can safely help cut up fruits and veggies. Older kids can make simple meals themselves, grate veggies, crack eggs - just about anything!
Make sure to get your kids involved in the shopping, especially at the fruit shop. Choosing different colours. Also involve them in meal planning, let them choose a meal and talk to them about adding more colours. A traffic light of colours!
My 7 year old wakes up every morning and cooks porridge. My 5 year old loves dipping chicken or fish into flour, egg then breadcrumbs. My 2 year old loves to cut his fruit and put the veggies into the pan. He loves sprinkling herbs and sesame seeds onto our roast veggies.
Question: What's next for Making Food Fun?
Kate Wengier: To cook with more and more kids! We are currently designing some fun equipment that will be on the market soon. Like us on Facebook! www.facebook.com/MakingFoodFun