Kids in the kitchen: French knife maker creates serious, safe cooking tools for young chefs

by Terry B on March 30, 2014

Opinel introduces Le Petit Chef Set, kid-friendly cooking tools that help teach proper kitchen skills. And Michelle Obama hosts a cooking contest for children. The prize is a Kids’ “State Dinner” at the White House.

Cooking tools for kids: Opinel Le Petit Chef Set

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As a nation, we need to be eating better. What am I saying? As a planet, we need to be eating better. Obesity and diet-related diseases are becoming worldwide health issues. In fact, obesity is second only to smoking as the leading preventable cause of death in the United States.

The best way to eat healthier, it turns out, is to cook at home. When we cook, we can control how much fat, cholesterol, sodium and sugar we’re consuming, especially if we use fresh ingredients as much as possible. And the best way to set our kids on the path to a lifetime of eating healthier is to get them cooking in the kitchen with us.

Legendary French knife maker Opinel has created Le Petit Chef Set, kid-friendly cooking tools that promote proper (and safe) knife handling and kitchen skills. The child-sized kitchen knife and vegetable peeler both feature what Opinel has dubbed an “educational ring.” The child’s index finger slips into the ring, properly positioning the hand on the tools, away from blades. The knife blade has a rounded tip for additional safety.

These are not toys. Since 1890, Opinel has made handcrafted wooden handled folding pocket knives; originally sold as working men’s knives, they have become iconic French tools. The company also makes a wide range of kitchen knives. In this set, the knife and peeler have beechwood handles and stainless steel blades. And both are sharp (Opinel reminds us that young users should be supervised). But as we all know, sharp knives are safer in the kitchen than dull ones—and if you want to teach kids to cook, they don’t need the frustration of dull tools.

Le Petit Chef Set also includes a finger guard that protects the guiding hand while teaching proper technique. When young chefs slip their fingers into the guard’s rings, their hand naturally assumes the claw grip position used by professional cooks to keep fingers away from sharp blades.

Cooking tools for kids: Opinel Le Petit Chef Set

We saw Le Petit Chef Set at the International Home + Housewares Show this month, where Opinel was introducing it to the US market. It’s currently available through the Opinel USA website and at two retailers, Stock Culinary Goods in Providence, Rhode Island and Tarzian West Housewares in Brooklyn. Le Petit Chef Set retails for around $55.

Kids, cooking and a White House contest

As part of her ongoing initiative against childhood obesity, first lady Michelle Obama is urging families to cook more meals at home—and to get kids cooking. She’s teamed up with USDA, the U.S. Department of Education and Epicurious to host a cooking contest for children eight to 12 years old. A winner from each state will attend a Kids’ “State Dinner” at the White House. (The entry deadline is April 5, so get your kid in the kitchen!)

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Mimi March 30, 2014 at 7:27 pm

Love Opinel products. Last visit to Paris, we bought Opinel folding knives at La Vaissellerie for cheese – they travel with us everywhere now.

Dani H March 31, 2014 at 1:12 am

Very cool! My granddaughter would have loved something like this when she was younger. She’s 16 now and asked for a food processor last Christmas. Both of my grandchildren started “cooking” with me before they could even talk.

Great to see the second weekly post!

Terry B March 31, 2014 at 11:22 am

Mimi, besides being great utilitarian tools, Opinel’s knives are just beautiful, aren’t they?

Dani, your grandkids are lucky to have a cooking grandmother to get them started on the right culinary path. And thanks—we’re excited about expanding Blue Kitchen’s coverage of food stories that catch our eye.

Aqiyl Aniys | Natural Life Energy April 1, 2014 at 12:37 pm

I totally agree that as a nation we need to eat better, and eating better means cooking at home. This chef set is not only a good way to keep kids safer in the kitchen, but it also provides an opportunity for more family time.

Shane Mark April 2, 2014 at 5:25 am

I like the invention. I think, with the “Le Petit Chef Set”, the French Knife maker solved the problem for parents. And the concept of “educational ring” represents safety signature. As in France says Bon Travail.

randi April 2, 2014 at 10:44 am

What a great idea! Too bad my kids are older now. I’ll have to wait for Grandkids. Glad to see you publishing twice a week!

Terry B April 2, 2014 at 10:50 am

Aqiyl, you’re so right about more family time. That’s a huge benefit of eating home-cooked meals as a family—and cooking together just extends it.

Thanks for stopping by, Shane.

Thanks, Randi!

[email protected] Riffs April 2, 2014 at 11:00 am

What a great idea! Learning how to use a knife properly is such a basic kitchen skill, and one that many adults haven’t really mastered. And how great to have a kitchen helper who can prepare the mirepoix! Fun post, and I’m glad you’re posting twice a week.

Aubrey April 7, 2014 at 8:55 pm

Do you know where to purchase this set??
Thanks!

Terry B April 7, 2014 at 11:00 pm

Thanks, John!

Aubrey, probably the easiest place to get this set right now is on the Opinel USA website.

Johnny July 2, 2016 at 8:07 am

I bought my first Opinel in 2010 in Châteauneuf-sur-Charente, where I live. After more than ten years living in France, I just bought one on a whim. I’m here in Zurich and the knife is next to me as I write this.
It has seen much cheese, fois gras, tomatoes and avocados go past its little sliver of carbon and I am the one who has reaped the benefits.
Merci bien, Opinel !

Terry B July 5, 2016 at 8:23 pm

Thank you for visiting, Johnny—and for the great story.

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