Chef Chris Scott is co-founder of Brooklyn Commune, a café and market in New York. He and his wife, Eugenie Woo, began the venture in late 2010 to foster community around good food.
The café is a hot spot for busy families who stop in to eat wholesome sandwiches and salads at large communal tables, pick up containers of homemade soup and granola to go, or get involved in community events such as planting a vegetable garden at a local women's shelter.
Dad to daughters Elana and Pearl, Scott also leads monthly cooking classes for local kids ages 9 to 15 to help introduce them to the kitchen.
"We teach them fundamentals, like how to make rice, how to roast a chicken," he says. He remembers the pride he felt when he learned to make scrambled eggs as a child and wants more kids to have that experience.
"The simpler it is, the more comfortable they feel," he says. "I want to give them the confidence to go home and try cooking for their friends and family."
Scott cut his teeth in various restaurant kitchens in Philadelphia and then trained at the French Culinary Institute in New York. He's shown off his skills as a contestant on the Food Network's Chopped. But his passion is sharing the joys of food and cooking with young people.
When kids know what they're doing in the kitchen, Scott says, they’re less likely to be afraid of trying vegetables or new ingredients.
"[They] can begin to enjoy healthy, delicious, natural foods,” he says. “Not only that, they also develop a wonderful sense of community as they see the connection between the people who grow the food, those who prepare it, and those who sit at the table and share the meal." Scott remembers helping his grandmother slice apples for pie, which he says taught him the power of food to bring people together.
To help bring your own family together, Scott whipped up five simple recipes, one for each weeknight, each made up of only five or six main ingredients. These dinner options taste great and are fun for young, aspiring chefs to make. He also lists some essential pantry staples to keep on hand for healthy snacks and quick meals kids love.