When my son asked for a cooking class party for his 6th Birthday, I thought about cupcake making, cookie baking, and noodle pulling. Then I thought what food do all kids like to eat? Pizza of course, and a party where the kids get to be a proper pizzaiolo (a person that makes pizza) would be perfect. It’s every kid’s dream to be encouraged to make a mess and play with their food. It’s not much fun having to clean up afterwards though. So I thought I’d let Via Roma throw the party, whilst the kids would throw the dough. Via Roma opened its doors in 2014, a classic Italian fine-dining restaurant with a family-friendly ambiance. A large restaurant, with modern and bright Italian décor, it has also separate dining areas ensuring the Birthday party wouldn’t impact on other diners.
We had a personal party host to oversee everything. The cooking class was delivered by Kempinski’s Italian chef Simonem Oppezzo, and Beijinger Faye Zhang. Once the chef’s hats were on and adjusted for smaller heads, chef had the little ones kneading, rolling and tossing their very own dough. Oppezzo did a fantastic job of explaining the ingredients to the kids, telling them when and why you need to add more flour, and encouraging their pizza making skills. Once the bases were ready, the kids were let loose on the ingredients. Some decided to just chuck everything onto their pizza base, while others were a lot more artistic, creating smiley faces and pretty patterns. We think there may have been some cheating at some point, as one child managed to make a pizza far larger than everyone else’s! There was flour everywhere, but as quick as anything the floor had been swept and cleaned. Much to the children’s disappointment, so much fun can be had slipping and sliding across a restaurant floor.
Whilst their pizza creations were being cooked, the kids were served some professionally made pizzas, with ham and mushroom as toppings. Although most of them just wanted to wait until their very own pizza was ready. It was great to see their faces when their pizzas arrived, and how keen they were to compare theirs with everyone else’s. Dessert would form part of a party game, so once the pizzas had been eaten, it was time for a donut competition. 15 sweet and sticky donuts were hung from a long length of string. The aim of the game was for each kid to eat a donut, without touching it, and without licking their lips. Via Roma had baked some of the tastiest donuts I’ve had in Beijing, and the kids seemed to agree. They had a ball trying to take big bites out of the swinging sweet dough, with their hands behind their backs. The party came to an end with chocolate gateaux Birthday cake, candles, and an inscribed slab of white chocolate on top. The kids sang Happy Birthday in five different languages, the chef finishing off with a solo rendition of the Italian version.
I’m a big believer that if you want your kids to eat a healthy and varied diet, you should give them an apron and let them cook. By teaching them to cook, even the most basic of dishes, they are more likely to grow up to be healthy adults. They’ll have a better knowledge of cooking techniques, preparing food, and different tastes. They can start young too, and it’s great to be able to nurture their natural enthusiasm for cooking. The kids got so much out of just ninety minutes spent with professional chefs. A friend gave my son a cook book as a Birthday present, and we are already on recipe number three.
Open for lunch 11am-2.30pm; dinner 2.30-10pm
Kempinski Hotel Beijing Lufthansa Center 北京燕莎中心凯宾斯基饭店
50 Liangmaqiao Road, Chaoyang District (6465 3388, firstname.lastname@example.org) www.kempinski.com 中国北京市朝阳区亮马桥路50号 邮政编码
beijingkids Shunyi Correspondent Sally Wilson moved to Beijing in 2010 from the UK with her husband and son. Her daughter was born here in 2011 and both her kids keep her happily busy. In her spare time, Sally loves to stroll through Beijing’s hutongs and parks. She is a (most of the time) keen runner and loves reading: books, magazines, news, and celeb websites – anything really. Sally is also a bit of a foodie and loves trying out new restaurants.
Photos: Cesar Astudillo (Flickr), Sally Wilson