He may only be 11 years old, but Toronto native Daniel Hamilton gets to show off his cooking chops competing against 7 other tween chefs on Food Network’s “Rachael vs Guy: Kids Cook-Off” airing Sundays at 8pm. Being the only Canadian competitor is in itself an amazing accomplishment and Daniel is taking his new found fame all in stride.
Not only can Daniel cook better than most adults (myself included), he’s got a website called Quite a Bite, a YouTube cooking channel, he’s active on social media Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and he’s currently writing an iBook documentary of sorts called “You Only Wish You Could Cook Like a Kid” about how he started cooking and how his mom actually had to bribe him with money to make a cooking video as no one would believe that her young son could whip up a gourmet meal. At such a young age, Daniel already possesses a unique style as evident in his cooking videos that’s fun, quirky and insightful.
Tweenhood had the opportunity to question Daniel about his love of cooking, what advice he has for parents to help nurture their child’s love of cooking and how he landed on the cooking reality show with master chefs Rachael Ray and Guy Fieri.
Tell us about how you ended up being a contestant on “Rachael vs Guy: Kids Cook-Off”. How did it all start?
Well, my mom’s friend recommended that I try out for Rachael vs. Guy: Kids Cook-Off after viewing my Quite a Bite videos on YouTube. She also sent us an email she saw posted for kids to audition for the Rachael vs. Guy: Kids Cook-Off show. My mom thought it would be a long shot being as I am Canadian and it’s an American show, but she always quotes, I think it’s Gretzky, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” (which means if you don’t take a chance you will always miss an opportunity) so she sent in the videos to the production company and they liked my (QaB) videos so much they contacted us for an audition video–and the rest is history.
This is the YouTube video that started it all.
Courtesy of Quite a Bite
At what point did you discover that you could actually cook better than most adults?
I think it happened when I made my first meal at age 6 then a gourmet meal at age 8 while my mom slept (my grandma was in the house). When my mom woke up she didn’t believe I made it. When she got over her shock she came up with the idea to film me because none of the family or her friends believed her.
What tips do you have for parents that want to get their kids started with cooking?
a) If your child really wants to eat something and their guardian is too busy to make it, encourage them to start putting ingredients together so they both can make it when time is available.
b) Get them watching the Food Network, (and any other kid cooking related shows) especially during the Rachael vs. Guy: Kids Cook-Off ! The show makes kids see that kids can be accomplished chefs and it’s not just the adults that can use the kitchen and kitchen utensils.
c) Get them into cooking classes where they can share ideas with other kids and participate.
d) Buy them a recipe book for their birthday or holiday and cook with them! But most of all, parents have to encourage and trust their kids to be active participants in the kitchen.
What tips do you have for kids that want to learn how to cook?
a) Be persistent, especially if your caregiver is not interested in you being in the kitchen.
b) Show them recipes of food you want to cook (you can get these from the Internet).
c) Ask them to sign you up for cooking classes.
d) Watch my Quiteabite videos on YouTube with your guardian for tips and ideas (that way, they can see that being in the kitchen is safe for kids).
e) Watch anything about food on TV. Your guardian will hopefully see that you are serious.
What do you love most about cooking?
I LOVE creating different dishes. I also LOVE plating because I can make cool designs and be creative with food! It’s like art class in school.
Where do you get your recipes/inspiration for meals?
Um, I don’t know. I just look in the fridge. Oh ya, I also get inspiration by watching chefs cook on TV. I like watching “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” with Guy Fieri (he was my mentor). I like how ordinary people have restaurants and show how they make their fabulous meals, and in the words of Guy, “Righteous” meals (meaning fabulous).
What are some easy meals for kids to learn to make?
Mushroom burger, grilled cheese sandwich, pasta, omelets. They are so easy. My brother Shanon makes these with his eyes closed.
Have you had any major kitchen disasters while trying a new recipe?
Yes. I once set off the fire alarm! I don’t recommend leaving the kitchen while something is marinating or simmering.
How do your friends at school feel about having a celebrity in their midst?
Um. I don’t know. They do seem to enjoy talking more about food now and they are really getting into the food channel. It’s very cool.
We hear you are actually a bit camera shy. How did you overcome that for the show and as the star in your YouTube videos?
I did have challenges with the show. I am used to my mom editing my YouTube videos and being able to do a scene over and over again till it’s almost perfect. On the show they did not do that. Guy told me I needed to be more “alive” on TV so I kept practicing to try to be the same fun dude I am in real life. With a lot of practice and guidance from my mom and Guy Fieri I am gradually getting better.
Be sure to watch the grand finale of Rachael vs Guy: Kids Cook-Off this Sunday, September 29 at 8pm on the Food Network.
About Wendy Morelli
Wendy loves her 2 kids and her iPhone, not necessarily always in that order. She is an app obsessed mom who loves everything tech and is (unfortunately) old enough to remember the brick Motorola cell phone and the Commodore computer. Her love for technology stems back to the 10+ years of working for technology based companies. Wendy's alter ego, "AppHipMom" has been featured in Canadian Family, iVillage, Women in Biz, EverythingMom, BlogHer and Savvy Mom.