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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this podcast.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Mystery Recipe is a playful and educational cooking and food podcast from America's Test Kitchen Kids. The characters engage in silly wordplay while modeling social skills. The show features kid guest hosts, games, and opportunities to cook along. The cooking and kitchen technique (like knife skills) sections are well paced so kids and adults can listen while they prep and cook; these segments also include kitchen safety and hygiene lessons. Younger listeners will need adult help for cooking portions. The show includes nods to the adult listener through word play and jokes. It may be too goofy for tweens and teens, while some segments may be too long to hold younger kids' attention. Characters are shown to be diverse in both ability and cultural background.
First season great - second season not so much
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What’s It About?
MYSTERY RECIPE is an educational podcast hosted by America's Test Kitchen Kids Editor-in-Chief, Molly Birnbaum, who is patient and playful with her wacky, punny sidekick, Mitsy the oven mitt. They engage in lots of wordplay and model emotional intelligence while introducing a different ingredient theme each week, using science experiments, guessing games, interviews with experts, and kid guest hosts. Three (30-minute) episodes are released each week. The big reveal comes at the end of the season when all the ingredients come together in a 1-hour cook-along unmasking the mystery recipe. Messages like body positivity, activism, and acceptance of neurodiversity (and other differences) are explored through the lens of food and cooking. Interactions between characters promote teamwork and model social skills.
Is It Any Good?
This show packs in a lot of hard- and soft-skills in each episode. Mystery Recipe is fun and silly while also providing solid cooking skills, food history and science, and a robust social-emotional learning element. Positive messages about diversity also infused in each episode and lesson. The host is a perfect mix of playful and knowledgeable; a cool older-sister voice that informs while showing empathy and patience. Mystery Recipe may be too goofy for tweens. For younger listeners, some segments may drag a bit. Fun wordplay and jokes are sprinkled in for adults. Cook-along segments are expertly paced for cooking while listening, and carefully developed with both safety and learning in mind, thanks to America's Test Kitchen's expertise. Parent fans of ATK and cooking shows in general, will appreciate how well the food information and the cooking skills are scaled to younger listeners.
Production is tight, with lots of sound effects and smooth transitions. The show uses the medium to their advantage, like playing guessing games with audio clues. Descriptions of episodes are too brief to make an informed choice. For example, season three (of four) introduces a character with autism, but you wouldn't know this based on the episode summary; this can be especially frustrating for parents of children on the spectrum who would love for their child to feel represented in the media.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about how Mystery Recipe helps them understand their relationship to food and cooking. Does your family make any special meals during the year? Are any of the meals connected to your heritage? What rituals surround meals, if any?
One of the recurring characters (Greg the Cheese Grater) is autistic. Why might it be important to hear Greg's voice? Do you know anyone on the autism spectrum? How does uniqueness show up in the kitchen?
Why is it important to know where our food comes from?
Does listening to this podcast make you want to try new foods and/or inspire you to cook? What is a new food or type of cuisine you want to try?
Do you think cooking for yourself is important? What is one recipe you want to learn to cook yourself?
- Release date: February 23, 2020
- Genre: Food
- Average Run Time: 25 minutes
- Website: https://www.americastestkitchen.com/podcasts/mystery-recipe
- Host: Molly Birnbaum
- Publisher: America’s Test Kitchen Kids
- Pricing structure: Free
- Topics: Cooking and Baking, Friendship, Middle School
- Last updated: June 10, 2022
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