10 July 2024

Buddy Oliver’s top tips for giving kids kitchen confidence

10 July 2024

He’s got one of the most recognisable last names in food, and now Buddy Oliver is striking out on his own with a new cookbook.

At 13, the son of industry legend Jamie Oliver isn’t exactly a new face in the world of food. His YouTube channel, Cooking Buddies, has a mammoth 135k subscribers, and has seen him whipping up meals on camera for as long as three years ago – with friends and, of course, his famous father.

Oliver says cooking is “one of my all-time favourite things to do (alongside rugby, of course!)” so it’s perhaps no surprise he’s following in his father’s culinary footsteps.

He is the second-youngest in the Oliver clan – parents Jools and Jamie married in a church ceremony in Essex in July 2000 and have four other children – Poppy, Daisy, Petal and River.

Oliver’s debut cookbook, Let’s Cook, is aimed at getting children in the kitchen with colourful, fun and simple recipes. Dishes range from staples like the ultimate burger and meatballs with spaghetti, to vegetarian options including tomato soup and greens pasta, as well as the obligatory sweet treats like rocky road.

The book is coming out alongside his new show, Cooking Buddies, which starts on July 10 on CBBC and BBC iPlayer. The series sees him swap skills with young friends – teaching them cooking while they show him something they’re good at, whether that’s salsa dancing or ice skating.

“Let’s Cook is full of the things I love to cook and eat. It’s not fancy or hard to do, it’s just simple food done nicely,” Oliver says, a food ethos that sounds rather familiar.

Oliver says he’s “always been involved in cooking at home – I can’t remember not being! But, I must have been around four when I properly started making bigger things, rather than just helping with a bit of prep.

“Me and Dad have always cooked breakfast together at weekends, as this is when we have a bit more time.”

Aside from breakfast, Oliver says: “I love cooking fish with Dad. We almost always have fish on a Saturday – quite often mackerel. I’ve learnt to fillet it, and it feels really cool to be able to take a whole fish, prep it, cook it and serve it up for the rest of the family.”

If your kids are looking to build up a bit of confidence in the kitchen, these are Oliver’s top tips…

Start small

“Start small, and build on the recipes you choose,” is Oliver’s main piece of advice. “The more I learnt, the more I wanted to explore, so the same will probably be true for you.”

The first dish he learned to make was something super simple: scrambled eggs, which he says were “really tasty, and actually quite easy once I knew what to do”.

Oliver also assisted his parents in the kitchen – this way, he says: “I started to pick up new skills, like how to make chopped salads or simple pizza and bread doughs, and it kind of went from there”.

Learn new skills

Cooking is all about building blocks – learning core skills that will help you across a range of recipes.

That’s why Oliver recommends picking up basic techniques and recipes first: “Things like how to cook perfect rice or how long to cook a jacket potato for, as well as how to make your own simple flatbreads or one-ingredient pasta.”

Because “once you’ve cracked them”, he adds, “They’ll stay with you forever!”


Embrace unpredictability

It can be easy to feel disillusioned in the kitchen if something doesn’t quite turn out how you wanted it.

But even if things don’t go to plan, Oliver says that “doesn’t matter”, and your best bet is “try to not think about it too much”.

He adds: “Sometimes you’ll end up with something even better than planned, and other times it’ll just give you an idea of what not to do next time. It’s all part of the journey!”

Have fun

Ultimately, Oliver says: “Roll up your sleeves, get stuck in, and most importantly… have fun!”

According to the budding foodie, there are plenty of reasons for kids to get into cooking – namely that you can “tweak and adjust things to make them exactly how you like them”, so you’ll “always want to eat it”.

And then when you’ve mastered the skills, Oliver says: “It’s good not always having to rely on grown-ups when you’re hungry.”

Let’s Cook: Fun, Easy Recipes For Kids by Buddy Oliver is published by Penguin Michael Joseph © Jamie Oliver Enterprises Limited, priced £20. Photography by David Loftus. Available now.

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