Something quick or something tasty?
To some people, cooking after a long day of work at the computer screen can seem like an arduous task. But not for 9-year-old aspiring master chef, Tayshawn Holmes.
On this episode of From the Source, I speak with Tayshawn and his mother about his growing interest in the culinary arts and dishing up recipe videos for social media
We also discuss the role cooking plays in multidisciplinary learning and growing independent self-sufficient children into adults with purpose and confidence.
Jourdan: Chives, dill,sour cream, baking soda, worcestershire sauce, steak and pasta. These are items that your typical nine year old child will not ask for when you go on a grocery store run. But when your idols are Marcus Samuelsson, Bobby Flay, Rachael Ray, it fits.
Tayshawn: Because I first started seeing my mom cooking and then I loved it, so I just started going in the kitchen and putting together my own stuff to cook.
Jourdan: Meet a nine year old chef, Tyashawn and his sous chef, his mother, Taelor Homes.
Taelor: I always had him in the kitchen since he was very young.
Tayshawn: I was real curious.
Jourdan: Tayshawn and his family reside in Knoxville. He's in third grade and attends the Young Scholars of Western P.A. school, where he earns high marks and is currently taking Turkish for his second language course. He's also the middle child of three boys, and he has his heart set on becoming a master chef.
Tayshawn: Hey, guys, it's Seasoning with Shawn. Today I'm going to show you how to make peach cobbler. low heat we're going to get a tablespoon of cornstarch, a half cup of water.
Taelor: My thing is, well, my way of parenting, whenever my children bring anything to my attention that they want to try is to act on it.
Tayshawn: A teaspoon of lemon juice. a little lemon zest, and a half cup of sugar. We're going to turn this down to low heat. We're going to mix this up...
Taelor: I always wanted my boys and Tayshawn, he's one of three boys that I have to learn how to cook.
Tayshawn: And I'm going to crank this bad boy up to medium heat.
Taelor: As I got older, I started to notice that there were a lot of men my age who did not know how to cook. And I did not want Tayshawn or even my other boys to be one of those men when they got older. I wanted them to always know how to fend for themselves and not rely on anyone else. So that's why I started bringing them in the kitchen pretty early.
Tayshawn: And we're going to wait till this gets thick and bubbly. This is thick and bubbly so now we're going to turn it off.
Taelor: You never want to block a child's passion. You never know what great things they could accomplish if you give them the opportunity. So when Tayshawn first told me he wanted to cook, it was, are you serious? This is what you really want to do? Because, of course, you do think money. You do think, you know, they're going to ruin things in the kitchen or waste food. It was just like as soon as Tayshawn told me that he was sure, that this is what he wanted to do, instantly, mommy mode kicked in. Let's get serious. Let's go to the store. Let's get you these cookbooks. Just so you know, you can really act on what sparked his interest, what he was passionate
Tayshawn: Hey guys. It's Seasoning with Shawn. Today I'm going to be showing you how to make meatloaf.
Taelor: If you look at his videos, he's always using different ingredients when it comes to cooking. I think, honestly, you've been using what? cumin a lot.
Taelor: You've been using a lot of that lately.
Tayshawn: First you're going to want to crack one egg. You're going to want some milk and you're going to want pepper. Then some Italian food, then some onion powder, Then you're going to want to put in some garlic powder. Lastly we'll add our ... And don't forget your worcestershire sauce. then you're going to want to whisk it up.
Taelor: I am in the background recording the videos for Tayshawn. It's not as put together as you see it on social media, in the background. I'm like, Tayshawn move the seasonings over a little bit. Behind the scenes, I'm definitely, definitely being a cheerleader behind the scenes, making sure he's getting it right. He's perfecting his craft before we put the video out there.
Tayshawn: Okay. So i'm going to form my meatloaf and now that my meatloaf is formed , we're going to put this in the oven at 350 degrees, and then i'm going to wait about 30 minutes and check on it again to see if it's done. I put some baked potatoes in their airfryer and they're actually done.
Tayshawn: I want to be a chef and own my restaurant. Serve like pasta and chinese food and stuff like that.
Taelor: And Chinese food?
Tayshawn: uh huh.
Tayshawn: After mixing this up and changing my gloves i'm going to be adding in my breadcrumbs.
Taelor: Tayshawn makes some good alfredo. I tell you. Listen, that sauce is like sauce I've never had before. All Tayshawn's sauces are from scratch. No jar sauces over here.
Jourdan: I'm not going to lie, ya'll. I was a little triggered when Taelor said that Tayshawn makes all of his sauces from scratch. I'm still very much an alfredo out the jar kind of girl, you know what I mean? So if you felt triggered as well. Don't feel bad, you're not by yourselves and you're going to do better in 2021. In my defense, you know, I add a little bit of heavy cream, a little fresh garlic, you know. a little parmesan cheese, but I'm definitely not starting from scratch.
Taelor: Growing up, you know, my parents are married, but my parents never really pushed us, you know, my mother was the type: she got a job, she became content. and was like, that's it. You know, I hated that. It was always, Mom, that's not what you want to do. You don't like that. You know, why are you doing that? And it was just my kids are taken care of ,we have a roof over our head. I'm not worried about it, you know? So I didn't want to be like that because I've seen how unhappy she actually was. I love my mother to death, but I never want to be in that position where I'm essentially hating what I do, but I'm only doing it to take care of my children.
Taelor: My dream is to make sure whatever they aspire to be in life, you know, they love what they do. You know, a lot of times we as adults, you know, we found positions in life and we kind of stay there. We become content. We don't want to move. It's like, I hate my job, but I'm paying the bills. I don't want my children to ever be like that. Find what you love to do and stick with it. so that work doesn't become work. It becomes something that you love. I don't care if you're a garbage man and you love picking up trash. As long as you love doing it everyday, that's all that matters to me.
Tayshawn: My words to other kids with interest is to focus, try hard, and you can accomplish anything you can imagine.
Jourdan: I mean, this is the multidisciplinary learning that we all want our students and our children, and our cousins, and our young family members in generation next to engage in. Right? Tayshawn is bringing together English language arts- communication. He's doing math. He's doing science. He's doing art with this presentation. Like every family who has a child or children enrolled in school, transferring to e-learning was a little difficult for the Holmes family, but they've been able to manage. And Tayshawn says that it was kind of a blessing in disguise. Working from home and maintaining his honor roll, high honor roll status at school with his grades. He was able to pour more time and more attention into his craft. waking up and making breakfast for his family, making lunch, making dinner, researching more recipes to bring to life in the kitchen. At nine year old, Tayshawn is finding a balance between work and life and play that's appropriate for his life right now. Tayshawn's goals for the rest of 2021 look like this. He wants to learn more, eat more, complete and publish his first cookbook and find more recipes to prepare. If you have any advice, suggestions or words of encouragement. He can be reached at his Instagram page or via Tik Tok at underscore seasoning (_seasoninwithshawn). That's seasoning with no "g" with Shawn. s- h- a- w- n. He's looking forward to hearing your feedback. Both pages are managed by his mom, Taelor.
Jourdan: After speaking with Tayshawn and Taelor, I was compelled to reach out to other chefs in Pittsburgh to see what advice or words of wisdom , tips, tricks of the trade , that they could offer to Tayshawn as he continues down this path to become a master chef and any advice they will give to Taelor as she supports his creative endeavors. You know, to practice the old adage of each one, teach one. It's a proverb originating from the Bllack American community that says when you learn how to do something to read or to write, that is your responsibility to pass on that knowledge and to teach someone else. Here's what the chefs had to offer to Tayshawn.
Anastasia: To be 10 and want to actually cook lasagna, that is amazing to me. He already is chef to me. My name is Anna. Anastasia. You could call me Anna. The name of my business is AnnaBaby's. If you want to be a chef and you want to say you're a chef, then you're a chef. You don't have to go to school to be a chef. You'll have to do, you know.. A chef all in your mind, I feel like. Three things that a chef should have in their kitchen is a great knife set, a great pot set. Non-stick pot set and a great variation of different seasonings and stuff. I feel like each chef should have that.
Jourdan: Chef, do you have any advice for Taelor? Tayshawn's mom. You know, because today she's able to manage his requests. He's doing. cumin, pepper, garlic. But, you know, in a few years, a few months, he may be asking for black truffles from France.
Anastasia: my advice for his mother would be to just sit back and let him experiment, because all of this is getting him prepared for when he gets older and become a real chef, just like an experiment. I mean, tell him right from wrong not to have the fire up too high or not playing with grease and doing stuff like that. But let him experiment and let him get into that kitchen. And if you want to make it, if you gotta right there in the dining room or stand by just stand by and let them do his thing.
Jourdan: Anna, do you have any closing thoughts or last thoughts you want to share with Tayshawn?
Anastasia: I want to tell him to just keep going. Keep pushing. If he could do that at this age, imagine what he could do in the next 10 or 20 years.
Anastasia: And I also want to try his food too.
Carlos: One of the first things I had would be to never let anyone take your creativity away. That can happen somewhere between the ages of 10 and 16. to where , he could get discouraged about what it is that he wants to do.
Jourdan: That's Chef Carlos Thomas. He's the President and Founder of Feed the Hood, a Pittsburgh based feeding program aimed at ending food insecurity. That teaches young students and adults about proper nutrition and prepare students for careers in the culinary workforce. He also owns and manages Confluence Catering
Carlos: And never think just because you started at such a young age that he can't be taught or can't learn something new. That's always the first thing I would drop into a young man's heart.
Jourdan: You can learn more about Chef Carlos' Feed the Food program and his Confluence Catering business on their respective Facebook pages. I believe this episode is about more than Tayshawn the nine year old chef. I think the subplot of this episode is what happens when a child has a safe, loving, affirming environment to test their ideas in. Children learn more from what you do versus what you say. Taelor could've just been comfortable in reliant on the fact that her son knows how to cook and she's tasted his food, and that's it. But through her support, she showed Tayshawn that he had a safe environment to experiment in and to mess up in, and to try new things in. And welcome him into a platform where he could show his gifts and skills with the rest of us. Through Tic Tok and through Instagram. Demonstrating for him that if you match hard work, focus, responsibility, creativity with a never give up attitude, resiliency, that something could happen for you, something positive could happen for you. That something positive can happen when you nurture an idea from start to finish. I hope this episode does more than just encourage you to start making your alfredo sauce from scratch. I hope that you find and create safe spaces for you or the young people in your life. To bring their ideas from start to finish and from thought to reality.
Jourdan: Thank you for listening. Thank you for sharing. We hope that you continue to come along on the ride with us, to share better stories for a better Pittsburgh with this medium. Thanks.
Jourdan: This podcast was produced by Andy Kubis and edited by Mila Sanina and Halle Stockton. If you have a story you'd like to share. Please get in touch with us. You can text a voice memo to 412-432-9669 or email it to me at Jourdan@publicsource.org. Also, if you like what you hear, we'd like to ask for your support. PublicSource is an independent nonprofit newsroom in Pittsburgh. Please support local journalism and storytelling by going to publicsource.org/donate. You can find all of our reporting on the coronaviruses crisis and other Pittsburgh news there, too. I'm Jourdan Hicks. Stay safe. Be well.