The Next Generation of Food Critics

By Megan McDonald August 15, 2011

The test kitchen at Girls Inc.

People often ask me what the favorite part of my jobs is. After all, I do have a few hats that I wear, so to speak. I am a hospitality consultant, food critic, culinary travel editor, culinary director for television and a chef. Every day is different and I love every moment of it. But what really sticks out are the days like I recently experienced at Girls Inc.

Spending time with the girls at Girls Inc. is truly magical. These girls are smart, bold, energetic—and nothing can get in their way. So when I was asked to come in and talk about my career paths, I jumped at the chance.

The girls came prepared, asking me where I went to school to train as a chef, what the hardest part about catering is and what I like most about being on TV.  We discussed the word “subjective,” and how every critic’s work is exactly that. Then we got down to the real tasty fun: The girls became food critics themselves.

Future food critics.

First, I brought in zucchini nut muffins and the girls in the group had to guess what the green in the muffin was. Some gave good answers, like basil, mint and spinach, but boy, were they shocked when I told them zucchini, since most thought they didn’t like such squash. (Of course, they had never ventured to try it, either.)

A young taste tester.

Next, we spread creamy peanut butter and sliced banana on the muffin, followed by crunchy peanut butter with milk chocolate frosting. The final taste test was to spread peanut butter (either crunchy or smooth), banana and dark chocolate frosting on the muffin—and then to have the girls close their eyes to really concentrate on the flavors. Here are the spot-on responses from our budding food critics:

“It reminds me of a Reese’s peanut butter cup.”

“The dark chocolate was intense, but since it made the taste a little bitter with all the sweet, it went well.”

“The crunchy peanut butter is better because it adds texture.”

“The bananas are too much—they shouldn’t go with the frosting.”

“The flavors all marry together, but it makes for messy eating.”

And my absolute favorite: “I think the  creamy peanut butter and milk chocolate frosting makes the muffin taste better—but, of course, that is subjective, you know.” (As only a nine-year-old can tell it!)

Thank you, Girls Inc., for inviting me to spend some wonderful time with such amazing young and inspiring girls—truly my favorite part of any one of my jobs.

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