Like many children, Natalie Hope started out in the kitchen watching and helping her parents. But unlike many children, Natalie continued on her own, experimenting and advancing her skills. With the help of Food Network programming and parents willing to be guinea pigs for her creations, Natalie entered and won the She Expo’s cupcake competition last month. What makes the 10-year-old’s accomplishment so impressive is the fact that the competition had 63 other participants, a mix of professionals and amateurs.
Natalie’s white cake cupcakes with lemon filling were cleverly presented so that they looked like soft-boiled eggs. With white chocolate shells, she even served the cupcakes to the judges, Katherine Berman and Sophie LaMontagne of DC Cupcakes, in an egg carton (boy those sisters keep busy in and out of their shop). While Natalie does have dreams of opening her own cupcake shop some day, for now she is focused on continuing to learn both in the kitchen and the classroom, expanding from cupcakes and desserts to main course meals and improving her math scores. Natalie is a prime example of the ways that letting kids in the kitchen can help them to learn and retain basic skills and information.
In addition to the ways that cooking and baking can be a bonding experience for children and their parents, there’s also a lot of math involved, particularly challenging fractions. Decorating baked goods like cupcakes or cookies taps into a child’s creativity and imagination. And we can’t forget that all of cooking involves elements of science. It’s easy to turn your kitchen into a laboratory where experiments yield creative and tasty results.