KIDDO reviewer Carla Caruso attended a Tasting Australia session, led by Africola’s chef, and learned how to tackle kids’ sighs when confronted with greens.


Africola chef Duncan Welgemoed shared his tips for getting kids into the kitchen at a Tasting Australia session last week.

The South Africa-born cook was assisted by his sons, Max and Alex, at the Victoria Square event, dubbed The Deep Sigh of Broccoli. The latter is also the name of Duncan’s upcoming children’s vegetarian cookbook, due out around November.

africola event tasting australia

Here are some of the tricks Duncan shared during the session:

  • Get the kids to help make dinner regularly. “Max goes through recipe books and says, ‘This is what I want to do’,” Duncan says. And away they go!
  • Sometimes youngsters have to get the odd cut in the kitchen to discover what not to do. “That’s how I learned,” Duncan says. “All you need is that little bit of fear and respect [of the tools]. And you’ll never do it again.”
  • On microplanes, “always get the big ones”, according to Duncan. Then the kids can use the gadgets to grate garlic and the like while you’re at the stove.
  • Even Duncan’s offspring are fussy about certain foods. Alex, for example, isn’t a fan of eggs and mushrooms. However, Duncan says: “What he doesn’t know is I’ve been using dehydrated mushrooms in my stock … You have to build up their tolerance.”
  • “Break down” what your kiddos don’t like about particular items. Alex, for instance, is “more textural” and hates things like mashed potato. So, Duncan’s working to “slowly build him up to a stiffer mash” using pumpkin soup and the like. “Develop their palate early and you save so much down the line.”
  • As well, Duncan says: “We try to make every meal a ritual… If you’re cooking Italian, throw on an Italian playlist. If you’re cooking French, throw on a French playlist. The person who’s cooking is also the person who sits at the head of the table, so there’s that ownership and pride. Those little things are what get kids into the kitchen.”
  • Opt for sea salt flakes rather than iodised salt, Duncan reckons. “Table salt just kills everything and it’s not good for kids.”
Africola event

Another tip we picked up during the session? Use bucatini pasta instead of (soggy) paper straws in your drinks at home!

At the event, attendees also got to sample an earthy, autumn-perfect minestrone Duncan whipped up (recipe below). Plus, try mocktails, incorporating veggie offcuts, by Hellbound wine bar owner Mark Reginato, and learn how to make edible bouquets with Ivy House florist Jessica Taylor.

The emcee at the event was media celeb Magdalena Roze. Her partner – Byron Bay culinary icon Darren Robertson – happens to be Tasting Australia’s food curator in 2021. Foodie heaven!

Autumn Minestrone Recipe

Africola Recipe

For a taste of the full program:

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