You can encourage your kids to eat healthy and be interested in food until you are blue in the face, but there’s nothing like a little positive peer pressure to actually make children decide there might be something to the whole food thing.
Cue Kayla Mitchell. The 12-year-old from Center Moriches was a contestant on Season 3 of MasterChef Junior with Gordon Ramsey on Fox. At this year’s Grown on Long Island Day — an annual free family farmers market and festival at the Suffolk County Farm in Yaphank taking place this year on Friday, August 7 — Kayla will be on the other side of the table as a celebrity judge for the festival’s Seafood Throwdown and a role model for other junior foodies.
Kayla, who managed to win the first Season 3 episode despite cutting two fingers and who lasted for six of the eight episodes of the competition, says “I got into cooking after watching cooking shows and seeing them use fresh ingredients.” An avid lacrosse player, she says, “I try to make sure I have a balanced meal, because if you are not getting the important nutrients you won’t have enough energy.”
She is happy to be a source of inspiration for her friends, teaching them to make smoothies or to branch out from chicken nuggets to making their own oven baked chicken tenders. And through her new business, Cooking with the Mitchell Girlz, she does one-on-one and group cooking classes with kids. “I am not sure what I want to do in the future, but I would love to have a cooking show,” she says. “Being on the set showed me a lot. I loved the theatricality of it all.”
Kayla will be on the other side of the table as a celebrity judge for the festival’s Seafood Throwdown and a role model for other junior foodies.
In the meantime, Kayla Mitchell is looking forward to sitting on the other side of the kitchen in the judge’s seat.
“I think it’s very cool to have the opportunity to actually judge, so I can sit back and watch,” she says. “I don’t have to cook, I just have to eat the food.”
The Seafood Throwdown features two chefs going head to head to prepare the best local meal they can from ingredients available from the vendors at the farm day. This year’s chefs and the list of vendors has yet to be announced, but count on a wide variety of exhibitors producing local fruits, vegetables and prepared treats, including preserves, baked goods and (hurray!) adult beverages.
The Cornell Cooperative Extension Suffolk County Farm is at 350 Yaphank Avenue, Yaphank, right off the LIE at Exit 67 South. Grown on Long Island Day takes place on Friday, August 7 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. The event is free, but arrive early for good parking and to be there for the Seafood Throwdown.
For more information, call 631.727.3777 or visit www.celebrategrownonli.com. For more information on Cooking with the Mitchell Girlz call 631-774-8387.