After educational film producer Gaylon Emerzian (known on the show as Miss Gaylon) once shot a film in which a little boy was taught how to make his own pizza, she never forgot the look of satisfaction on his face. When she moved to Evanston, Illinois in 2005 and discovered that her neighbor’s children, 8-year-old Olivia and 10-year-old Belle, had inherited their Italian family’s love of cooking, she decided to make an online show featuring the two sisters teaching other kids not only how to cook, but to cook food that’s both healthy and fun.
The show has become so successful that the girls have been booked for live demonstrations. Guest spots on the show have been auctioned off on eBay to private and corporate bidders like Chicago’s Healthy Schools Campaign, and the girls even won the James Beard Foundation’s award for Best Webcast in 2006, the first year that such a category existed for the prestigious American Culinary Awards.
The informational videos are brief but adorable. Belle and Olivia show kids how to make food that doesn’t require adult supervision (ovens, stoves, and knives are off-limits without parental permission). As a result, there’s a Rachael Ray level of ingenuity involved with those restrictions: cold soups that do not need a stove, artistic jello molds, and tofu and tuna salads with kid-friendly twists.
Directed and produced by a professional filmmaker, each episode looks like something you’d find on TV. The shows are uploaded with five segments each week, all revolving around a single theme, such as Leprechaun Lunch and Citrus Circus. Since most kids are not exactly restaurant quality chefs, there are how-to guides for basic skills and kitchen measurements to make the whole process a little bit easier.
I like to think of myself as both a good cook and an adult, so it was a surprise to learn so many simple, easy recipes for Middle Eastern foods that could all be prepared in under 10 minutes.