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Inspiring a Budding Young Chef with a Simple Gift

My nephew, 13, has just discovered cooking, and I'd like to give him a Christmas gift that further animates his nascent love. Given his age, I think a piece of cookware is just the ticket. The processes of elimination [nothing dead-tree; nothing by subscription; nothing like a pot or pan or toque] suggest giving him a knife or knife-set.

Is this a good idea (I can do the research for the best once the decision's made) or am I missing something obvious for a boy that age? I'm supposing that something tactile will work best, yet I welcome any and all creative suggestions.

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  1. Hmmm.....well I suppose it depends on what he ikes to cook, but my thought:

    1. A cooking class. Lots of places hold begginner's classes. Maybe one in baking or a cuisine he likes (learning to make pasta). Can't get mroe tactile than that.

    2. At that age, I was a fan of anything cooked ona grill. Tom Douglas makes an intresting variety (Chinese, indian, Native American) spice rubs. A little exposure to different flavor profiles might expand his horizons.

    3. if it came down to a "dead tree" Jamie Oliver's cook with Jamie.

    Matt

    1. He might like some of Alton Brown's DVDs. He did a few with a kid purported to be his nephew, and the kid always looked as if he was having a good time. But Brown covers technique and recipes in ways that a younger guy might find interesting, especially if he already is interested.

      1. agree wholeheartedly with the cooking class suggestion - a basic skills class/series would be a perfect place to start. before you give him good knives he should learn how to use and care for them properly.

        4 Replies
        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

          I like the cooking class idea but, nonetheless, would go with the knife. Basic tools can really effect the result, and one's satisfaction and sense of accomplishment . My husband is a painter and a strong believer in only giving kids good quality art materials so they can take pleasure in and feel some mastery in the mark they make. Same goes for cooking.

          1. re: janeh

            from a safety standpoint, giving a kid a sharp knife without teaching him how to use it is far more dangerous than giving him free reign with a canvas and some paint.

            a knife skills class at a cooking store is great because they teach you proper form and care, *and* can offer guidance on the best knife for you - what works for one cook may not be the best fit for someone else. i'd get him a class plus a gift certificate that he can apply toward the purchase of a good knife...and stores usually offer class attendees a discount on anything they purchase that day.

            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

              I totally agree with the knife skills class. He will learn about the care and proper handling and use of different knives. Right now Wusthof has some excellent deals on knives so it is an opportune time to be able to purchase chef's knife.

              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                ... giving a kid a dull knife is pretty dangerous. particularly with learning disabilities...
                I wouldn't give this at Christmas, unless given as an IOU (to be given later during the holidays). This deserves a good lecture on knife care, at minimum. And that's best done when it's quiet. perfect for a birthday gift thou.

          2. Knife. He's going to need one anyway so you might as well start him off on the right path to using good-quality equipment. The Basic Skills cooking class is nice, but he needs to be able to put what he learn to effect at home and without tools, he's not going to get very far.

            As a good uncle, you'll also want to throw in a penny, a big bag of potatoes to practice on, a bottle of 3M's Nexcare Liquid Bandages, some traditional bandaids and perhaps a good wood cutting board.

            1. As a former 13 year old boy who was cooking (as well as using power tools), I'm in the "a good knife is a great gift" camp. In fact, it's immediately what came to mind when I saw the thread. Though I may have appreciated a few tips from a cool uncle, I'm pretty sure there is no way I would have gone to a class with a bunch of "moms." As an experienced adult cook (and carpenter/handiman), I'm also a believer in the paramount importance of good tools. As an uncle, though, I think it might not hurt to check first with his folks.

              7 Replies
              1. re: MGZ

                Not to generalize too much, but yeah... boys like knives. I second the recommendation for a knife with 2 conditions - that the nephew in question is reasonably responsible for his age, and that his parents don't mind the thought of getting him a knife.

                Also of note, if the OP knows how to sharpen a knife, I suggest he teach his nephew. I once roasted a pig and a bunch of briskets for a wedding. Before cutting the meat, I sharpened up a couple slicers on a few waterstones. I soon had an audience of 12 year old boys who were fascinated. It's a good age to learn the basics of that kind of thing.

                1. re: cowboyardee

                  "Not to generalize too much, but yeah... boys like knives"

                  It is totally true and it would be ignoring the an elephant in the room. Just look at CHOWHOUND, how many people who discuss knife sharpening and sharpening stones are not men. We can debate if this is nature vs nurture, but the end result is what it is now.

                  1. re: cowboyardee

                    It's funny how the most fundamental "male" tasks have become the "spectator sports" of today. Like you, I have been able to mesmerize members of the generation younger than me by simply sharpening a knife in the kitchen, Even funnier was the time I had underestimated the amount of wood I needed to barbecue some pork and wound up having to split a few logs with an ax after the party had started. I could have sold tickets to defray the cost of the fete.

                    1. re: MGZ

                      As a woman, I've got two axes in the house -- and I'd have paid to watch your technique. You do it more often than I do -- and if I need it, i'd better be able to do it well.

                      1. re: MGZ

                        Hey MGZ:

                        The tickets would've been worth it--watching "logs" being split with an axe is pretty funny if you've ever swung a maul.

                        Aloha,
                        Kaleo

                    2. re: MGZ

                      Im also on board with the knife Idea. If he is reasonably responsible it will be an invaluable tool he can use for many years to come. As stated earlier, check with the parents first of course.

                      1. re: twyst

                        +1 on a knife after checking with parents. Maybe some lessons on Rouxbe.com? http://rouxbe.com/membership

                    3. I am huge in term of giving a good kitchen knife. Because he is 13, he has a good deal of control. Let's say that many 13 years beat me in video games, so I won't say they have less coordination than an adult. They may not have enough practice, but it is not a question of lack of potential.

                      As for knife, I definitely suggest a proper size knife for a young man. If he cannot handle a 12" Chef's, then don't force one on him. Buy what he needs now, not 10 years from now.

                      1. An 8" Dexter-Russell Sani-Safe Cook's knife and Essential Pepin by Jacques Pepin which also contains a dvd filled with lessons on technique.

                        The Sani-Safe because it is one of the most widely used knives in the industry. Essential Pepin because Pepin's culinary career began at the age of 13 and he's one of the best teacher's ever.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: SanityRemoved

                          Agreed on the sani-safe. Also nice is that it is such a neutral knife. Almost anyone's hand will fit it, it is great for a bunch of tasks (chopping/slicing, etc), takes a very nice edge, and....is easy to keep very clean. Not very demanding at all. Good call.

                          1. re: SanityRemoved

                            IMHO the SofGrip or V-Lo are far more comfortable to hold than the SaniSafe lines.

                            Still USA made Dexter-Russell products and the same steel just different handles. Google shop and Restaurant Supply places have them real cheap.

                            Dexters are like Ford F-150 trucks, workhorses. They aren't the fanciest most high performance t\knife around but they are consistent and reliable. Easy to resharpen also.

                            Jim

                          2. I would go a totally different direction. I wouldn't get a knife. I would get something relatively specific but allows him to do whatever he wants with it and experiment with things.

                            I would get something like a George Forman Grill or a Panini press type thing. He can make all kinds of foods from grilled sandwiches, to chicken, to burgers. It allows him to be independent in the kitchen (no Mom freaking out about him and the knife). He can put anything between two slices of bread and see what he thinks. He can whip it out and pull from the fridge and go to town.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: thimes

                              I"m totally out voted on this whole knife idea thing ;)

                            2. I third or fourth the cooking class suggestion. Your nephew can then decide what cooking tools he would like & then start a wish list. A kitchen aid mixer was on my dd's list for last couple of years & her wish finally came true yesterday for her 13th birthday as she received a raspberry ice one (simply gorgeous), a combined gift from grandparents and us. I don't know who was more thrilled, dd or her sister who's going to reap the rewards as the baker is not a big eater, lol.

                              Though a knife is a good idea, some people are superstitious about gifting it (perhaps suggest strongly to the mom to buy one for herself, lol). I thought this was an Indian thing but turns out people here believe in it too!

                              1. I agree with the cooking class. But, have you asked your nephew what he would like? I am sure all the ideas/suggestions are good, but cooking is a rather personal endeavor shared somewhat publicly. Ones choice of tools is also rather personal and need to be comfortable to use so as to instill confidence. So, what would he, rather than family, like as a gift? Maybe he can give you 3 or 4 reasonable suggestions and you can surprise him with one. Just a thought!

                                1. My only reservation about giving your nephew a knife is that he might accidentally cut himself with it, and you might get blamed for the accident. Even if no one says anything to your face, his parents may think to themselves "How could he have given our son such a dangerous gift?!"

                                  The cooking or knife skills classes sound good to me. They would not only improve your nephew's abilities in the kitchen, but would also further increase his enthusiasm for cooking. In addition, you can wear the sanctimonious halo of showing that your nephew's safety is your foremost concern.

                                  It's a win-win!

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: tanuki soup

                                    Ha! I was just thinking that. If the OP's sibling is anything like mine, he should be ready to get blamed the first time Junior butchers his digit, if he buys that knife. I'd leave that one for the folks, or for Nephew to buy for himself. How about assembling a "mise-en-place basket" with some ingredients (my nephew likes Asian food, and a trip to Chinatown always yields some good stocking stuffers; sriracha, fish sauce, hoisin, dried squid snacks) he can start his own "personal pantry" with? Some good oils, "things in jars & bottles", maybe toss in a gadget or two with the food? Consider the potential "knife liability issues".

                                    1. re: BrettLove

                                      having actually cut myself with a really sharp knife... they heal MUCH EASIER and CLEANER than most kitchen things. (knew someone who left a bit of finger on a hot pot. and nobody minds the kid using the stove!)

                                  2. All things being equal, I am not sure I would be hesitant to give a kid a knife (though I'd tape a penny to it. My Mom's side is Irish and said that otherwise, the knife means you want to sever a relationship).

                                    1. A heaping plateful of thanks to the 'hounds: I want to invite all of you to my apartment and cook dinner for you tonight! (Or, better, as soon as I discover that hidden room I've dreamt of, to accommodate all the good-hearted here.)

                                      I was open to every suggestion but partial to the knife -so I'm surprised to have been swayed by the cooking class advocates. A knife is, after all, just one tool in the entire kitchen armamentarium -I could just as well give him a spoon or a mortar & pestle or a baster [the panini press idea goes in another direction, I think, but I like it from a ludic point of view]. It seems logical to me now that if he approaches cooking from the grand overview provided by a class, the (need for and understanding of) proper tools will follow. And who knows? At the end of the day, he may be partial to the rolling pin!

                                      My only reservation is the formal education part of it: he goes to school all day, and now we're compelling him to go back into a classroom again -& after dark, no less? I'm not even sure the presence of girls there would be a selling point. So, I'll talk to my sister and report back when the final choice is made. Thanks to all for your advice.

                                      P.S. @ westy -I would never give a knife without appending a penny to the blade; that's what I was taught, too.

                                      12 Replies
                                      1. re: Phil Ogelos

                                        A little late but I bought my step son his first knife for this x-mas mind you he just turned 16, but I let him use mine ,,,, in 8 min he was bleeding, mother freaking, me trying not to laugh, nothing serious but he learned what not to do(he hadn't used a sharp knife before) but he's learned cutting/cooking in foods class

                                        1. re: Dave5440

                                          It is not a big deal. We learn more from our mistakes than from our success. This is a good learning experience for him and he will be that much better because of it.

                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                            Oh he's a tough sob , he was laughing too but neither of us would in front of his mother. BTW I watched him get stiches at 5yr old without freezing , mother had to leave

                                            1. re: Dave5440

                                              Tougher than me for sure. :)

                                              I would probably cry at his age -- crying or not, it is still a learning experience.

                                              This is the Tojiro DP (VG-10 core) gyuto knife, correct? Did you get to handle it so far? Are you happy with the purchase aside of the minor accident?

                                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                I am very impressed with the knife, it's light, thin fit and finish is flawless. It's borderline shaving sharp(about half the blade will cut armhair) other than that I didn't cut anything with it.That being said I wouldn't hesitate to buy another Tojiro great knife at a great price. I havn't given it to him yet(he'll get it on the 25th)he cut himself with mine.

                                        2. re: Phil Ogelos

                                          "A knife is, after all, just one tool in the entire kitchen armamentarium -I could just as well give him a spoon or a mortar & pestle or a baster ..."

                                          A knife is a tool, but it is not just any tool. An engine is part of a car, but it is not the same as a wiper. A knife is probably the single most important and certainly the most basic tool in the kitchen -- quiet different than a panini press.

                                          That being said, any gifts will be great for your nephew.

                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                            For sure chem, I wouldn't get excited about a panini press, but a knife , at 13 i'd be on the moon

                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                              Superstitions about giving knives as gifts aside (and I'm mostly in the "not giving knives as gifts" camp), I agree with CK that a knife is not just another tool. I got my first good knife (an 8" German chef's knife) as a gift from my uncle when I was in my 20s, and I think it was somehow very important to me. Using and maintaining a knife takes practice and time, but a knife and some way to keep it sharp is probably the most essential kitchen tool there is. I think knives are personal in a way that most other tools are not. And, for the record, I don't think receiving that knife as a gift put my relationship with my uncle "on edge".

                                              All that said, a class is also a great idea; I'd personally suggest one that focuses on knife skills and basic cooking techniques, rather than a class on how to cook specific dishes. Learning to hold a knife correctly (and safely), how to maintain an edge, and the basic types of cuts is extremely important, and I wish I had taken a knife skills class when I was in my teens. People learn in different ways, but for me, even having seen pictures of how to hold a knife, having someone guide my hands through the motion really helped me understand what to do with a knife.

                                            2. re: Phil Ogelos

                                              You know your 13 better than any of us do.

                                              Im a little surprised still on how emphatic people are about the knife. I certainly understand and appreciate technique and having good tools.

                                              But I'd instill a love for the creative side of cooking and a love for and appreciation of flavor combinations before I would instill knife technique. I guess that is where my head was with something like a panini press/george forman grill.

                                              I love my knives and just bought a VERY expensive knife that I consider a work of art. So I get it. But I can also cook a kick-ass meal without ever using a knife - ripping herbs, crushing tomatoes with my hands, using a pan to smash garlic - etc - because I understand flavors.

                                              When I step back and think about it, it is an interesting philosophical question. In what order should one learn about cooking? Technique first or flavors first. . . . . Both are important but which should come first - I don't know. Maybe there is already a thread about it . . . .

                                              1. re: thimes

                                                I want to clarify any misunderstand -- if there is any. I think your panini press is a good suggestion. I also don't think a knife is necessary the only best gift. I can see many other gifts as better options in both for presentation and for other reasons. Like I have written, a fry pan, a cutting board...are all good gift, although the original poster had already said no to a frying pan. My follows-up posts were trying to say two things: (1) a kitchen knife is essential for cooking, (2) because it is essential, a gift of a knife is not endangering a chef.

                                                In short, I am not arguing for a knife gift. There are other good reasons for not giving a knife. I was merely arguing that safety is not a practical reason.

                                                The original poster asked us (in the original post) about the knife gift:

                                                "The processes of elimination ... suggest giving him a knife or knife-set. Is this a good idea?"

                                                I am just trying to answer the question, not trying to be emphatic.

                                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                  We're good Chemicalkinetics ;) - I wasn't taking your comments as anything other as how you presented them and you are correct the OP suggested a knife first.

                                                  My head just wouldn't have gone to knife - not that it is a bad idea - just not what I would have thought of. And after reading other's thoughts it just made think about different philosophies of learning food.

                                                  1. re: thimes

                                                    :) Thanks god. I was going to draft an apology letter, had you been upset. Now I can save my apology letter. :P

                                            3. I for one support the knife. I don't suggest buying a whole set though. Kids change quick. I suggest no more than two to three knives. That's all we chefs usually use anyway; Pairing, 10" chef & boning knife. Unless he likes to bake then nice offset pallet knives/spatulas are needed. I suggest taking the money you save from not buying the whole set and get him a knife roll as well... The knives are nice but if they are in the kitchen everyone uses them. That's not the same thing as having your personal tools for your art, to craft yor passion... As for them being dangerous... Cooking is a full contact sport... "Wounds heal and chicks dig scars..."

                                              1. Rather than focusing on strictly on cooking....give him the opportunity to explore the possibilities of food science as well...something as simple as understanding correct temperatures of serving food.

                                                Consider a pocket thermometer....and a chef's coat that has a thermometer pocket on the sleeve.....and his name embroidered on the shirt, of course.

                                                1. Phil,

                                                  Let I clarify my position. I think a good kitchen knife is a good gift for a “budding young chef”, but that is not to say that it is the only good gift. There are other good alternatives like a good frying pan, a good cutting board and many others.

                                                  One thing I like to add is about the dangerous of a kitchen knife. It is a dangerous tool, let’s accept this fact. However, let us also be clear that a kitchen knife is necessary for a cook. As a home cook, I can definitely work without a waffle iron, and I might even able to work around a frying pan, but I would be in serious trouble without a kitchen knife. Given that a kitchen knife is a must, your nephew will use a knife if he wants to become a little chef. So you are not endangering him by giving a kitchen knife – a tool which he will use regardless. In fact, you giving him a good kitchen knife would probably be protecting him. A good kitchen knife is safer than a bad kitchen knife.

                                                  Again, there are many other great kitchen gifts. The only thing I want to set the record straight is that giving a kitchen knife to a cook is not putting him in a dangerous situation. If you don't think he is old enough to handle a knife, then frankly he is ready to learn to be a cook yet. You cannot train a child to become a baseball player if you think that baseball is too dangerous for the child.

                                                  Think of it this way. Is giving a sword to a young samurai endangering his life? No. Denying a samurai a good sword is what will endanger him.

                                                  Yes, you may want to give him a basic 5-10 min knife skill lesson, but he should received the lesson regardless of you giving him a knife or a panini press because he will use a knife.

                                                  6 Replies
                                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                    "If you don't think he is old enough to handle a knife, then frankly he is [not] ready to learn to be a cook yet."

                                                    That pretty much sums up the essence of the discussion.

                                                    1. re: MGZ

                                                      Thanks for the correction. :) Now it makes much more sense. Thanks.

                                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                        The correction was necessitated by the change of context. The important thing, however, is that you have captured the crux of the entire discussion in a single sentence.

                                                    2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                      If parents balked at the idea of their 13 year old receiving a knife as a gift, my first question would be, "Do you lock up all your knives?". Sure there might need to be some ground rules in the beginning, like the knife stays in the kitchen. A first knife, be it pocket, kitchen or whatever should be accompanied by safety and usage tips. They can range from oral to printed to audio-visual. Learning to respect tools and use them correctly at that age will last a lifetime. The responsibility and pride of ownership could do wonders for a teen's self esteem.

                                                      1. re: SanityRemoved

                                                        Agree. I also want to add that knives are not the only dangerous tools in the kitchen. I have had several burn injuries from the kitchen. For one, a kitchen knife is not going to result in life threatening third-degree burn injury or burning down a house. There are many other dangerous tools in a kitchen as well. A food processor can cause serious damages. A hot oven is quiet dangerous.

                                                        To put it in perspective, it is essential to use a knife to become a cook, just like the fact that it is a must to use a stove. If a child is not ready to use a knife, then I would also say that he is not ready to use a stove. There is nothing wrong if you do not believe a child is ready.

                                                        I don’t want to come across as saying a kitchen is a horribly dangerous place. It is dangerous, but it not the worse in the big picture. I have a much better chance of seriously hurting myself in a car than in kitchen for example.

                                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                          I hurt myself more with the kitchen peeler. And those are more serious wounds, too! (more prone to infection).

                                                    3. Perhaps a wee bit pricey but hey, nephews are worth it! I suggest a food processor! They can grate, chop, slice, puree ...... just to name a few! Your nephew would be able to focus on ingredients and presentation! He would be able to create a ton of different things! Later on, he could focus on knife techniques and such. You can probably pick one up for about $69 (in Canada) or a little less. IMO it would be about the same cost for a good knife.

                                                      p.s. Mom & Dad could use it too! :)

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: Kellz

                                                        Unfortunately, although a foodprocessor does do many things, it only does a couple very well. The chop on a processor is neither attractive nor evenly sized. They also teach you to be lazy... I.e. "Well that's the thinnest setting I have..." Sorry crayons are not enough to learn to be an artist...

                                                      2. I'd check the kitchen in which this person is learning and find something classis that it lacks, maybe A mortar and pestle.

                                                        1. c'mon folks, its a knife for crissakes.
                                                          I say give him a cleaver or an easy bake oven, choice is yours (I woulda loved an easy-bake).

                                                          kidding aside, whattya gonna do with a knife, cut yourself? terrorize the schoolyard? hold up a bank?
                                                          Its your nephew and you know him best, give him a good chef knife. Better yet, include a whetstone & teach him to keep that bitch razor sharp, that way he cuts himself less. Teach him to never drag the blade across the cutting board. Teach him.
                                                          just my 2c.

                                                          1. Good morning everyone,
                                                            So, all the suggestions have arrived, and been analysed and vetted by a capable cadre of experts [i.e. me & my sister]. She and I are both profoundly grateful for the help you've offered us.
                                                            Before the conclusion is reached, though, I wanted to summarise what the canaille told me to give, being:
                                                            . a cooking class
                                                            . a grill (George Foreman brand, or a panini press)
                                                            . cookbooks, from sundry experts
                                                            . a cooking DVD
                                                            . bandaids or 'liquid skin' (not sure if the latter's an ingredient or a comestible!)
                                                            . a bag of potatoes
                                                            . a whetstone
                                                            . an axe or a cleaver (these suggestions appealed to me, in a G.Ramsay sort of way)
                                                            . a mis-en-place basket (very English!)
                                                            . a pocket thermometer....and a chef's coat that has a thermometer pocket on the sleeve.....and his name embroidered on the shirt, of course (very Las Vegas!)
                                                            . sriracha, fish sauce, hoisin and dried squid sauce
                                                            . an easy-bake oven

                                                            ..............
                                                            Here, too, are some of the more endearing comments that emerged:

                                                            . having actually cut myself with a really sharp knife... they heal MUCH EASIER and CLEANER than most kitchen things.

                                                            . in 8 min he was bleeding, mother freaking, me trying not to laugh, nothing serious ... I watched him get stiches at 5yr old without freezing , mother had to leave

                                                            . for the record, I don't think receiving that knife as a gift put my relationship with my uncle "on edge".

                                                            . Is giving a sword to a young samurai endangering his life? No. Denying a samurai a good sword is what will endanger him.

                                                            . Sorry crayons are not enough to learn to be an artist...

                                                            Final kudos must go to thime, who asked, " In what order should one learn about cooking? Technique first or flavors first. . . . . Both are important but which should come first?" Which is, blades & boxers & pennies apart, the real question.

                                                            ..............
                                                            Anyway, the boy's mother vetoed the knife idea (surprising to me, since she and her son live in the wilds) and so cooking classes it is to be. Thanks again to all (and maybe a knife is in the cards for his next birthday, if not a rolling pin) and I trust that others around the world in my position are helped by what's been provided here.

                                                            21 Replies
                                                            1. re: Phil Ogelos

                                                              I know you said "No Books", but I think a book like "Mad Hungry" would be sorta appropraite for a 13 yo kid.

                                                              1. re: Phil Ogelos

                                                                What a great and humorous summary - I had to google the definition of 'canaille' and the first definition was 'pack of dogs' - big grin.

                                                                1. re: Phil Ogelos

                                                                  I dig the end-of-thread summary. Thanks for updating with your choice.

                                                                  Hope your nephew enjoys his gift,

                                                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                      Now now Chem,sounds like sour grapes to me..
                                                                      A Samurai(or chef) must learn technique,discipline and skill before they can master the sword...I know I'm late to the party,but I was going to suggest "Jacques Pepin"s Complete Techniques" a great reference guide for cooks both young and old.

                                                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                        You mean I'm a chicken for not getting him a knife, chem?

                                                                        1. re: Phil Ogelos

                                                                          Phil, Chem was just being cheeky - no malice intended - not apparent in his post, but to those that know him well he enjoys being a brat. :D

                                                                          1. re: Phil Ogelos

                                                                            No, I said Chicken because your icon reads "Chicken" in Chinese. Am I not correct?

                                                                            鸡 = Chicken

                                                                            http://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E9%B8%A1

                                                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                              LOL - that went way over my head - not understanding the characters - apologies for calling you a brat !!!!

                                                                              1. re: rosetown

                                                                                No problem. I am a brat sometime, just not this time. :) The confusion would have avoided had I called Phil a "Hen" or a "Rooster", but I just typed "Chicken" because it is a more nature word for me.

                                                                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                  I was born in the Year of the Rooster, hence my icon.
                                                                                  I love a good joke, hence my screen name.
                                                                                  Thanks for explicating your comment, ck. This turned out to be such a warm & supportive thread (with more legs than I ever expected it to have) that I was worried something sour had been injected into it at the end; I'm glad I was wrong.

                                                                                  1. re: Phil Ogelos

                                                                                    "I was worried something sour had been injected into it at the end;."

                                                                                    No.... I just decided to call you "Chicken" because I finally realized your icon. You see, I can read traditional Chinese, but not simplified Chinese. Your icon is written in the simplified form, so I wasn't 100% for awhile. It wasn't until recently that I gained confident that it is indeed "Chicken", so I just decided to call you "Chicken" in that post.

                                                                                    You can call me "Darth Raven" (my icon).

                                                                                    :D

                                                                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                      Thanks, chem! I studied Mandarin in Taiwan (Mandarin Daily Nespaper school), and thus never learned simplified Chinese. I was wondering what it meant.

                                                                                      1. re: Dave5440

                                                                                        made this my avatar - for the time being - if you don't mind - :D

                                                                                          1. re: rosetown

                                                                                            Not at all I LMAO every time I think of it!!

                                                                              2. Sorry, but I'm cringing at the knife suggestion even though I agree it would be a nice gift for someone interested in cooking. I guess it is a superstition. My suggestions are an instant read thermometer, a good wire whisk, a dining experience, a pizza stone and paddle, a pasta maker, an immersion blender, garnish tool kit, a copper bowl. Oh, and I agree with the Jacques Pepin cookbook suggestion and the cooking class.

                                                                                P.S. The dining experience is so he gets to taste how delicious food can be as well as seeing nice presentation.

                                                                                4 Replies
                                                                                1. re: whinendine

                                                                                  I don't get why you would cringe at a knife suggestion, It really does depend on the 13 yr old, I was already carrying at least one knife( usually 2 or 3) at 10 , but I know a bunch of kids at 16,17 that I wouldn't let use a kitchen knife without supervision, but that being said most of them had never been taught how to boil water let alone make a sandwich by themselves so it always come back to their parents either being to scared to let them or letting them be lazy and doing everything for them.Then there's the parents that don't know how themselves and cannot pass anything on, 3 out 4 of my stepdaughters b/f's could not remember having a home cooked meal ever!! always takeout or gone out. Friggin sad and getting worse.

                                                                                  1. re: Dave5440

                                                                                    "Then there's the parents that don't know how themselves and cannot pass anything on, 3 out 4 of my stepdaughters b/f's could not remember having a home cooked meal ever!! always takeout or gone out."

                                                                                    That is both amazing and disheartening to me.

                                                                                    1. re: Dave5440

                                                                                      "Dear Santa, for Christmas I would like a parent who can cook."

                                                                                      1. re: Dave5440

                                                                                        It's superstition is why I am cringing. Totally, no logical reason for it.

                                                                                    2. I realize that the decisions been made, but I thought Bittman's column might be of some interest to others considering similar issues:

                                                                                      http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/...

                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                      1. re: MGZ

                                                                                        Bittman's piece was very helpful, MGZ, thanks; the Times is my local paper, so I'm surprised I missed it.
                                                                                        I confess I liked his "pack" idea, too, but I think that'd only work if my nephew and I lived in the same town, which we don't.

                                                                                      2. Hmmmm, thinking back to when I was 13, and interested in cooking. I got my start earlier helping Mom, and then later in the Boy Scouts. At home I was using Mom's gear, and on campouts it was the troop's gear. Being in the Scouts, and having the Dad I did, I was familiar with knives early. What I remember most was flipping through cookbooks to find something to make. Years later Mom gave me my own rolling pin, and pastry cloth. Now that both of my folks are gone I am using the same gear I used growing up again. So, what do I treasure the most? The knife my Dad made for my Mom back in the 50's, or 60's, the 3-C KitchenAid mixer (1950), and the Sunbeam CG waffle iron (1950). I have gobs of cooking gear, but those are the ones that mean the most to me.

                                                                                        I have mixed feelings on the classes , as there are so many options such as TV, videos, DVD's, etc that can do essentially the same thing. Having someone to learn from on a one on one basis like I did from my Mom was priceless to me. Mom was a good cook, and even though she didn't like to cook, she never dissuaded me from wanting to learn. . The Scouts allowed me to plan the patrol's menu, shop for the ingredients, then execute the meal in the field. While other patrols were having mac n cheese, or hot dogs, my patrol was having kebobs,pork chops, etc. Learning to cook in the field , sometimes with a dutch oven were very memorable moments in my cooking journey.

                                                                                        Personally I would have leaned towards a cookbook, or cooking overview book like the Cordon Bleu class book (I found one at a thrift store) which covers equipment,sanitation, techniques, and terms. I covet the books that I inherited from my Mom, as they are like family history to me with the penciled in notes, and dog eared pages. Once he figures out which direction he wants to take on his cooking journey, then I would suggest gear like a knife, or a rolling pin,especially if his folks already have decent stuff to work with.

                                                                                        Learning to cook early has served me well. I was a better cook than any of my girlfriends have been so far, and being a perpetual bachelor I wanted to eat more than Top Ramen. My friends have told me that I will make someone a great wife someday =D