About Edible Legacies

by Laura Martin Bacon

Edible Legacies is a labor-of-love devoted to discovering delicious new ways to help families share their special food traditions. We’re partnered with the The Culinary Trust, the International Association of Culinary Professionals, The Southern Food & Beverage Institute, CUESA ,Young Chefs and other great culinary educators.

You’ll find inspiration on this site — and stories by kids for our award-winning program at Green Ribbon Schools.  Kids (from 4-18) are invited to contribute their own stories, photos, drawings and videos for our Edible Legacies project on the family-friendly GRS website. Please come visit us there!

Need simple, healthy, irresistible recipes for kids and families? For lots of fun, free kids’culinary information, please check out Young Chefs, written by Edible Legacies co-founder Sheila Crye.

If you’re looking for one-of-a-kind culinary fun and education for kids, please check out ZeBot’s Kitchen, written by our Edible Legacies mascot.

HISTORY

The inspiration for Edible Legacies comes from an unforgettable 2008 project I worked on with kids culinary educator Sheila Crye, that year’s chairperson for the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) Kids in the Kitchen.

Our project revolved around helping New Orleans kids chronicle their family recipes and food traditions. We asked New Orleans schoolchildren (ages nine to fourteen) to find and write down a favorite family recipe, along with a brief story about why the dish was special them.

To inspire kids and set an example they could follow, six top New Orleans chefs volunteered to give cooking demonstrations to 700 students in six local schools, showcasing one of the chef’s special family recipes and teaching the kids how to prepare it.

Once they had an idea of what to do, kids interviewed members of their immediate or extended families to find the perfect recipe and story — and if possible, prepare the dish together.

The contest judging was done online, culminating in a “grand finale” at the IACP conference, at which the six finalists were awarded cool culinary prizes and the fun of cooking with Chef John Besh (who prepared a family recipe for cornbread in a century-old cast-iron skillet he’d inherited from his grandfather).

One aspect of the project that really captivated me is the way children, many of whom lost everything as a result of Hurricane Katrina, have the innate wisdom to realize that family traditions and recipes are something that no one (and no storm, no matter how horrific) can ever take away from them.

These simple legacies seem to connect kids to their past in a deep, sensory way that few other things can. They also give them hope for the future in a world that can often seem pretty bleak.

I recall one little girl telling about how she loved making barbecue sauce, because it reminded her of good times her family had before the storm, when her parents were still together and used to engage in friendly competition (in which they enlisted the complicity of the kids) to see who could whip up the best secret sauce.

Now, the little girl said, her dad didn’t come around much anymore. But she continued to make the sauce, savoring the warm, spicy memories and dreaming of a time when she’d make barbecued ribs for her own kids.

It was a pleasure and a privilege to help these children preserve the culinary legacies of their families — and it made me realize that it shouldn’t take a hurricane (or other natural disaster) to encourage people to explore and record their favorite recipes and food traditions.

And so, the Edible Legacies program was born.

We hope you’ll join us!

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