Older kids want to cook more elaborate things, but they are still kids. That is, they still love all the “dress-up”, even if they would never admit it! They want to prepare dishes that are more complicated but serve them with all the fanfare that one would find in the restaurant. Whether they are playing Japanese restaurant or pizza parlor, the more realistic the experience, the more they will enjoy it.
Parents can feed their interest by encouraging them to try specialized cooking and helping them get the materials to make it “dramatic.” Teenagers are not immune to “make-believe” but you need a new name for it at that age. How about “specialty cooking”?
“Japanese restaurant” is a favorite of ours, not only because much of the food is somewhat simple to prepare, but because the teenagers love the dozens of little dishes, sushi boards for serving, chop sticks for eating, wonderful presentation when all the foods and little pieces are lined up together. Choose a lot of little plates and serve things in small portions. The dishes for “Japanese restaurant” are relatively cheap in Chinatown, so look there the next time you visit a city with a substantial Chinatown district.
Similarly, “Pizza parlor” always goes over well. Even if you purchase the crusts, having a pizza peel to remove it from the oven, rotating bread board for serving, serving containers of grated Parmesan cheese and chili flakes all come together to make it a fun experience. Adding the preparation of the crust from scratch is a triply whammy. To personalize it, buy or make mini crusts, so everyone can have only what they like on their pizza, which, in theory, guarantees that they will eat it.
See our tips for teenagers who love to cook savory dishes.