Bahraini mothers Reem Marhoon and Maha Al Sayyad have seven kids between them, which means there are a lot of mouths to feed. Luckily for them, their children share a love of cooking thanks to endless re-runs of Junior MasterChef Australia and plenty of family kitchen time during Ramadan. It was this that inspired them to set up Bahrain’s first kid’s cooking studio – Ready Get Set Cook at Saar Mall – earlier this year. Here, these busy working mum’s answer our questions about what they’ve pulled off so far…
What’s the main idea behind Ready Get Set Cook?
You will see that our motto is ‘Recipe for Great Super Confident Kids’ and that, in a nutshell, is what we would like to achieve as mothers, first, and as businesswomen who chose a child-related business. Children learn best through play and by using all their senses. Cooking provides all that. The hands-on nature of cooking helps strengthen a child’s ability to concentrate and practise their motor skills. Cooking builds self-esteem and self confidence in children.
What kind of format do your classes follow?
There are various formats and types of classes that cater to what our customers are looking for. The most challenging of which was our walk-in sessions, which do not require a booking and that run throughout the day. You will find that most cooking studios offer specific courses at specific times throughout the week. However, as mothers, we both appreciate flexibility and were very keen on incorporating this into our business model.
Cooking is precise, there is a recipe to follow, ingredients to be made available, and different cooking times. After careful selection and consultations with our in-house chef, we designed a menu of one-hour recipes that overcame all the obstacles. So kids can walk into the studio at any time during opening times, decide how many recipes they would like to try and each lasts an hour.
With the starting school year, we are now offering after-school clubs which are structured, age-appropriate classes. We also have weekend events like ‘Cook Up a Story’ where we link our recipes to a certain story or movie. The studio also hosts playdates and birthday parties.
What type of dishes do you teach the kids to cook?
Our menu is an international menu – from making your own pasta from scratch to recipes that kids love like cupcakes and cake pops.
In our summer camp, ‘Around the World in Ten Days’, the kids went on a culinary adventure around the world, landing in one country every day.
They were introduced to the country’s flavours, the culture, arts and crafts, and we found that most did attempt to try to wrap the seaweed around the sushi which was a great achievement to us.
Kids will be kids so you will find that they mainly choose desserts from the menu. However we do offer healthy cooking classes and back-to-school menus, and those are loved by kids also.
Why do you think it is so important to get kids cooking?
Of course, one of the most important aspects of cooking is for parents to get involved with their children. As most mums now are working mums, time in the kitchen with kids is limited (although we do provide mummy-and-me sessions).
Indeed, cooking with kids can be the gift that keeps on giving. We believe some of the benefits of cooking is it encourages kids to try healthy foods. You basically give them the tools to be healthier and to find enjoyment in preparing their food at home. Cooking also has a visible end result – a cooked meal on a dish – and it gives kids the feeling that they have accomplished something which gives them a great sense of achievement and independence. Moreover, in an age where kids are surrounded by technology and virtual worlds, cooking is something real; it engages many of their senses – taste, touch, sight, smell – and is an activity kids enjoy that doesn’t involve them spending time in front of the TV.
Considering you don’t have a background in cooking, what drew you to this line of work?
With seven kids among us, we know what kids like and dislike when it comes to food. Given that we are both working mothers who appreciate the benefits of cooking, we decided to establish a studio where kids would be able to enjoy the benefits including new vocabulary and reading recipes, following instructions to using math skills to measure ingredients and portion them. Although our recipes needed to be simple enough for kids to be able to follow, we did recruit a consultant chef with whom we chose the menu, tried out recipes and who provided essential training to our staff.
What are your plans for the future of the studio?
As we expand, we intend to offer additional services including adult classes. We also have plans to collaborate with both local, as well as international, culinary schools to provide certifications and to engage in national and regional competitions. In the medium term, we intend to franchise our business and expand into the GCC and Middle East.
Ready Get Set Cook is open daily 10am-1pm, 3pm-9pm. First floor, Saar Mall, Saar, email@example.com (1700 0260).