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Generation (Y) needs some cooking lessons

As a Father of four (gen y) kids ranging in age from 18-26, I have noticed the extreme lack of cooking skills. The most embarrassing part is, I'm a chef. I must say, they are better than some of their friends, but it still saddens me that most of this generation could not correctly tell you the difference between a cucumber and a zucchini. I would love to hear your thoughts.

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  1. Well, it's kinda the parent's job right there... my 5 year old knows how to make pancakes from scratch, I wouldn't expect school to teach such things beyond the very basic nutrition skills...

    Some families go out/get takeout/eat in the car way more often than cook at home, that's example setting as well

    1. I can assure you that my GenY knows how to cook, and does. What other skills can we give our kids that saves them so much money and gives so much pleasure?

      But you can't start these lessons at age 18. Instead, the lessons began in the high chair. Even a 3-year old can pluck the grapes off the vine, or hand the next mise en place bowl to the cook.

      I think anytime you use a stereotype for an entire generation you run the risk of being wrong as often as you are correct.

      2 Replies
      1. re: smtucker

        Absolutely you / they can start these lessons at age 18! Never to late to learn, and it's much easier / faster when they can read and are motivated.

        1. re: smtucker

          Yes! Thank you. I'm around the age of OP's eldest, and I cook quite well, as do most of my friends. If anything, I think it's the opposite of what you say.

        2. Because many parents of gen Y kids also don't cook. Parents who cook can pass it on. Parents who don't, can't.

          9 Replies
            1. re: foodieX2

              i have some chef friends who never cook at home because they do it 12-16 hours a day all week.

              they eat out at restaurants helmed and owned by their friends on days off.

              1. re: hotoynoodle

                But are they parents? If they are I question their priorities.

                My brother is a chef and he joked that he didn't ask his wife to type when she got home so she shouldn't ask him to cook. That changed when he had kids.

                I crunch numbers all day. The last thing i want to do after a 60 hour work week is to do more. But as a parent i would be remiss not to teach my son to balance a checkbook or handle his finances, to budget or even help with homework.

                Sometimes being a parent means putting other things first.

                1. re: hotoynoodle

                  So true, so very true. Until you have lived it, don't judge. Great input!

                2. re: foodieX2

                  They CAN pass it on but doesn't mean they always do. But, if they can't cook, then they can't pass it on. It's a good question for the OP. We can guess why he never bothered to pass it on instead of guessing. I'm a personal trainer and my daughter flunked jumping rope (not literally but she was written up for not being able to do it). Her lack of interest.

                  1. re: chowser

                    Yes but did you try to teach her and she chose not to learn? i think that is completely different that choosing not to teach at all. To be suddenly surprises that your 18-26 year olds can't cook and/or who don't know the difference between zucchini and cucumber seems as much as fail on the parents as it is on the kids

                    I have taught my son many things he is not interested in but that I feel are important life skills. Ones that he likes he does well (make milk shakes, flip chocolate chip pancakes, swim, sing badly) and things he doesn't like he doesn't do well-make his bed, sort laundry, folding clothes but the fact is he knows *how* to do them.

                    And there are certain things I have chosen to pick my battles on too.

                    1. re: foodieX2

                      To be clear, all of my kids do know the difference between the two. However, I bet you would be very surprised if you went into a any high school and put up a chart of vegetables and fruits in one section and their according names in another. Then ask each student to match them. My guess is that most would fail. The bottom line here is, if our kids were such great cooks, why are fast food chains ruling the food world and obesity is running rampant? Furthermore, I am not calling out any child that can cook and was taught by their parents, it was simple an observation. Thanks

                      1. re: ChefBriancooks

                        I was in a grocery store and it was close to Passover. There was a young woman on the phone to her mom. Apparently the mother had told her to get a fresh horseradish root and gave her a description. She picked up a parsnip, I shook my head and told her what it was. She said to her mother, still on the phone "Mom! I nearly bought a parsnip!" I then showed her what she was looking for. Pretty funny at the time.

                        1. re: Candy

                          That's what the produce guys are for, if other kind shoppers aren't nearby. There's a first time for everything and produce is tricky with multiple items in close bins so price-labels may not be aligned. I was nearly 50 before I bought radicchio (for a recipe), and needed to ask for help.

              2. I have to agree with everyone else. Why can't your kids cook? Look in the mirror. As a chef I would have thought you would have relished teaching them, even if it was just the basics.

                My son is 12 and has been an active part of the shopping, cooking and cleaning since he started eating solid food. He is currently going thru a picky/limited food choice stage so if he doesn't like dinner he is on his own. If I hadn't taught him to cook he would either be going hungry or living on peanut butter toast.

                3 Replies
                1. re: foodieX2

                  Alternatively, sometimes kids (consciously or not) avoid doing what their parents do.

                  1. re: lamb_da_calculus

                    As a profession sure! And again its one thing to try and teach your child something and them choosing not too. Its another not to try and teach at all.

                    So much of teaching is simply modeling behavior and getting kids involved. I never gave my son "lessons" on how to use a knife and fork, set a table, put a napkin on his lap or even whisk eggs. It was an ongoing process of hands on activity.

                    Often times "teaching" is just taking the time to do things together.

                  2. re: foodieX2

                    Hi foodie, the answer to your question is, my kids do and can cook. My point in bringing them into this discussion was simply to point out that its just not the same as I was growing up. I guess there may be too many options out here now. Nothing seems to be done from scratch anymore. I do value your input, great thoughts, thanks.

                  3. My 20 year old sister in law wasn't really allowed in the kitchen much growing up- the MIL is pretty controlling so she's the one that makes things how she wants them and doesn't want her kitchen "messed up." I don't think that's too unusual of a situation- none of her friends cook unless they work at fast food joints and when I think about it many people my age that I knew growing up didn't learn to cook until they moved out of their parents houses and needed to learn.

                    SIL stayed with us a few days a week last year and eariler this year while she attended the school close to us and while she was here she tried many different foods that her meat-and-potatoes Mom and Dad don't eat. That led her to be curious and ask how to make a couple of things.

                    We had a lot of fun in the kitchen. I insisted she learn some basics as well as teaching her to make creme brulee and bananas foster (her requests so she could impress her boyfriend.)

                    In the case of the OP, maybe the kids didn't learn because they didn't need to, someone else was always doing the cooking.

                    We learn many things in life out of necessity.