A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that although this foodie show is targeted at adults, kids who like to cook will pick up some basic instruction and exposure to different foods. Because the show is about preparing, cooking, and serving a meal within a short time span, the meals are relatively simple and easy (another kid-appeal factor). Perky hostess Rachael Ray is swiftly developing a brand awareness to rival Martha Stewart's; once they're familiar with Ray, your kids will see her everywhere -- cookbooks, magazines, even on the back of a box of crackers. She's very lively, chatting with viewers (sometimes about preparing a great "date night" meal or how to get through to the person you love through the kitchen) but not always touching on the health aspects of meal preparation.
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What's the story?
With 30 MINUTE MEALS, the now-famous Rachael Ray proved herself to be the Martha Stewart for busy adults who want good food but have little time or energy to cook. Her spin is to take traditional dishes and re-invent them, which can be a hit-or-miss concept for kids. Her tendency to act like a big kid in the kitchen -- with lots of exclamations of \"yum-o\" or \"this is awesome!\" -- has made her popular among school-aged kids interested in cooking. She likes working with kids and occasionally includes them in the show.
Is it any good?
Although Ray sometimes says things like "And if you screw up..." or "Make this on date night and watch out," overall her vocabulary is relatively tame. Her energy level is contagious to kids, and her basic instructions may encourage younger viewers to want to help in the kitchen and/or eat more adventuresome meals.
She's been called a "bobble head" by famed chef and critic Anthony Bourdain, and Ray's perky style of performing while teaching cooking is a big turn-off to many. She also has her own vocabulary, which kids may need translated: "EVOO" (extra virgin olive oil), "figure-friendly food," "sammy" (sandwich), "stoup" (soup/stew), and others. But while Ray may be annoyingly perky and too conspicuous as a brand to win skeptical parents over, she clearly enjoys what she does and may give kids some fun insight into cooking. And who knows? You might get a home-cooked meal to boot.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about different meal ingredients and their origins throughout the world. Which ones are healthy? Which should you avoid? Parents should also address kitchen safety -- using sharp instruments, cooking on a stove top, using an oven, etc. If kids are interested in cooking, this is a great opportunity to whip something up together from start (meal planning) to finish (chowing down).