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14-year-old chef? 6 kids making their culinary mark

Will McGarry

Kid chefs and food writers like 14-year-old Flynn McGarry are making their debuts in the food world early — some haven't even hit double digits.

From New York City to Scotland, children as young as 4 years old have begun writing and talking about food in the only way kids know how: with brutal honesty. And apart from the influx of children beginning to write about what they put into their mouths, there are also a surprising number of children eager to make their way into the kitchen to prepare dinner.

Flynn McGarry, now 14, took the culinary world by surprise when he began staging at Next and Alinea in Chicago under Grant Achatz and Modernist Cuisine's Food Lab in Seattle last year. This month, McGarry takes on the kitchen at New York’s Eleven Madison Park under the tutelage of Daniel Humm.

At the age of 10, McGarry became interested in the culinary arts and began practicing basic knife skills while building his culinary library. Just three years later, McGarry operates a monthly dinner club called EUREKA out of his home, where he serves 20 guests eight to 10 imaginative courses.

Flynn McGarry has managed to create a lot of buzz in a very short amount of time, including being featured in the The New Yorker’s "Talk of the Town" and being a guest chef at several high-end restaurants.

He’ll be cooking at Eleven Madison, a restaurant with three Michelin stars, from August 13 to 18.  Take a look at 5 other culinary child “prodigies” who are making waves.


DavidPine/ PinesPicks.com

David Pines

Adults make too many judgments based on the appearance of the restaurants," David Pines, a 12-year-old food critic told the New York Daily News in March. "They get mad because the glasses weren’t all there when they walked in. I’m like, who cares? How did the food taste?"

Following this philosophy, the "middle-school foodie," as he calls himself, published Pines Picks: A Kid’s Guide to the Best Things to Eat and Drink in New York City, said to be the first ever New York City food guide written from a kid’s point of view.

Though the book is intended for a younger audience, Pines did not focus on typically childish food. He rated close to 100 different varieties of food, and stuck to a method of eating the same types of food at once, making it easier to find the better-tasting dish.

David Fishman

David Fishman

At just 12 years old, David Fishman appeared on the Rachael Ray Show and amazed viewers and professionals alike with his impressive vocabulary and knowledge about food.

Since then, the now 16-year-old Fishman has made several television appearances and remains active in the culinary world.

Fishman describes himself to others as a professional food critic already, and with his four-year history in the business, he has owned the self-proclaimed career title. While reading various reviews that Fishman has written over the years,, it’s almost hard to believe that Fishman is indeed not yet a well-seasoned adult food critic with years of experience working in the industry

Alison Lowenstein

Max and Lucy

Max and Lucy Lowenstein, children of author Alison Lowenstein, are 5 years old and 8 years old respectively, and the first official food critics at Eater NY.

Twice monthly, the brother-and-sister team visits a restaurant for the site. Using impressive vocabulary for their age, the duo writes reviews on lined paper, accompanied by drawings of their dishes. Describing places such as The Meatball Shop as "fabulous" and Buttermilk Channel as "phenomenal," the siblings give straight-to-the-point reviews that are both charming and informative.

Dave Payne

Martha Payne

Nine-year-old Martha Payne’s blog, "Never Seconds," was formed with the idea that if critics reviewed school lunches, school officials might be more willing to present healthier and better-tasting food to students.

Daily, Payne took pictures of her school lunches and rated them based on taste, portions, health, courses, and whether or not the lunch tray had hair on it. After Payne’s father, Dave, reached out to Food Revolution’s Jamie Oliver, Payne’s site received an enormous amount of traffic. Less than two weeks after the launch of her site, Payne reported that her school was beginning to offer much healthier options to their students. Now, mere months after Payne began her site, mothers and children from all over the world use her site as a platform to post their own lunches, whether made by their school or otherwise.

Jason Knauer

Eli Knauer

Two years ago, Eli Knauer created his blog, "Adventures of a Koodie," as a first step to fulfilling his ambition of becoming a food writer. Today, 11-year-old Knauer has written more than 100 reviews, from chain restaurants such as Texas Roadhouse to chef Bryan Voltaggio’s Family Meal.

Using an impressive vocabulary, Knauer reviews the food, as well as the kid-friendly atmosphere of each restaurant. In order to receive all five stars in a rating, a restaurant would have to ensure a child’s entertainment, providing items such as televisions showing kid-friendly programming.

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