How much courage does it take for a 13 year old boy to invite his friends to a cooking birthday party? Probably quite a lot. I knew he would enjoy it as he loves cooking, but would it be a perfect opportunity for a bunch of teasing and derision from his friends? With this in mind, I realized that I would have to send out a cool invitation. This was not a moment for quirky illustration.
Manga is cool and, being totally useless at it, I trawled the web, found a pose I could work with and set about adapting it for this illustration. (thank you to the unnamed Manga artist who created the original…I can’t find it now, so I can’t give you credit, but if you see this and recognize your work, contact me!) It was a last-minute arrangement so it had to remain a black and white illustration which was easily emailed. It was inked, scanned and sent and we crossed fingers that there would not be a mass of “No thanks, I’m busy” answers.
What happened was surprising. Masterchef Australia was a must-watch TV programme at the time and the implied pressure in the invitation made them think it would similar to the TV show. My son didn’t tell them it wasn’t, he just accepted each “I’m coming…but I’m worried, because…Dude, I can’t cook!” with: “Don’t worry, you can be on my team.”
The people at Taste-buds had send us a menu from which we had to pick a starter a main course and a dessert to make. The birthday boy opted for samosas (for the challenge), followed by rump steak and rosemary-roasted potatoes (man food) followed by chocolate mousse (no brainer). All we had to do was turn up with drinks, the cake and party favours.
On the day, six nervous boys, four less nervous girls and two older sisters kitted themselves out in aprons and chefs hats and were set to work in the kitchen at Taste-buds. Angela and Sheldene there were amazing at putting anxious teens at their ease, teaching them some seriously cool cooking skills and curbing any potential food fights. Two and a half hours of laughing and cooking was the result. They learned how to make everything on the menu, had the satisfaction of eating it and realizing that they had done a great job.
Party favours included a fridge magnet with a conversion table – in the hope that as they gained confidence, these budding cooks would find it useful (I know their mothers do!) and later a cd of photos from the event.