In this blessed month of Ramadan Muslims around the globe enjoy indulging in scrumptious cuisines. Ladies in the house also spend a great deal of time shopping for food items in grocery stores and then exotically putting them together to make delicious meals.
This year in Jeddah it’s not only mothers who are ruling the world of food. Young children as young as eight have taken the baton and are stirring delectable dishes in “Tabkhatna Jahza” meaning “Our dish is ready to be served” --- a one of a kind unconventional cooking show for children being aired on Ajyal channel.
The show which has commenced in Ramadan this year for the first time has gained immense popularity among the Saudi children, who are extremely excited to enter and explore this new line of business. Children aged between 8 – 12 years have participated in the show.
If you are interested in helping your mother brew new and tasty recipes for Iftar, then promptly tune to Ajyal at 5:30 PM every day to watch the budding chefs in action. The one-hour program will teach you how to make simple dishes step by step.
In the show, two teams of children compete against each other. Without adults around to help them, the young chefs have to cook a complete meal --- an appetizer, a main course and a dessert --- within the stipulated 20-minutes assigned to them. Hence, they are not only tested for their cooking and presentation skills, they are also being judged for their time management, planning, organizing, delegating and implementing skills.
Each team is given a recipe which they are expected to understand promptly. After carefully scanning the recipes, the young chefs quickly divide the duties among themselves. One of them rushes to the makeshift supermarket and gets all the things needed, while the others prepare themselves for the tasks to be immediately done afterwards.
The teams are supervised by two well-known Saudi chefs, namely, Chef Hani Abbas and Chef Sumayah Al-Edreesy, who also don the role of judges in the show along with host of the show Hamed Banoon.
Nada Farran, Ajyal channel’s manager said, “Children love to create things. They are curious about cooking. Initially, some of them might not care about cooking, but if you encourage them you will be surprised to see their capabilities.
Farran said the goal of the show is to develop a sense of responsibility in children and teach and improve their organizational skills. “It is also a good way to elevate Saudi children’s self-esteem, allowing them to take pride in culinary skills.
“There is a cultural stereotype in our community which portrays that cooking is only for girls. Through this show we break the image and reveal the unprecedented fact that boys can cook too. And a large number of Saudi boys are interested in cooking and baking,” Farran explained.
Farran also said that one of the goals she plans to achieve through this channel and show is creating awareness about cooking in the long run, which could also be a great career option.
Hatoon Rambo, the production manager and creative director of “Tabkhatna Jahza” has directed many TV programs for Saudi channel and other Middle-Eastern TV channels for the past 12 years.
“You would hear Saudi children say I want to be a doctor or a pilot, but you would hardly hear a child says I want to grow up to be a chef. So, I came up with the idea of the show to encourage Saudi children to explore new career possibilities specifically that the popularity of Culinary Art is still considered new to the Saudi culture especially among males,” said Rambo.
This Ramadan preparing meals should be an unforgettable experience combined with lots of entertainment. Chef Abbas said he is very happy to be a part of this show. Children showing interest in cooking has come as a surprise to me.
Rambo also said that they got an overwhelming response from children when they made an announcement on Ajyal. “The response clearly indicates that many parents and children are interested in cooking and there is a huge demand among Saudi children who are willing to explore new opportunities.”
Nine-year-old Saudi national Mohannat Mshabbab said, “ This show is one of the best cooking show. I have not a missed a single episode. I am a food lover and I love to cook delicious dishes for my parents and myself. My mother watches the show with me and guides me on how to cook a dish. I wish I could participate too.”
Saudi national Sara, 12, said, “Tabkhatna Jahza” is my favorite cooking show. I watch the show with all my brothers and sisters. We discuss various recipes among ourselves and try to make the dishes too. The show is very interesting and I wish to become a chef one day.”
The program is written by Basem Bakulkah and edited by Alaa Farghal.