Inside The New York Botanical Garden

The Kid Food Blogger Experience

Posted in Programs and Events on July 15 2013, by Matt Newman

Batali Cooking DemonstrationIn food blogging, there’s always a trove of challenges to navigate: finding a voice in the hungry pack of culinary columnists, translating your dining experiences to allow readers to eat with their eyes, and—at least in New York—keeping pace with the frantic trends of the food scene. But of everything facing the writer from day to day, age should never be an obstacle to success—even kid bloggers deserve an audience!

During June 10th’s Edible Academy Family Picnic, held among the vegetable plots in the Ruth Rea Howell Family Garden, Mario Batali and Daphne Oz teamed up to charm palates with gourmet meals and a light-hearted cooking demonstration. We also invited several food bloggers like Carrie Vibert, Caroline Campion, and Amie Valpone to join us for the event, kicking off MasterCard’s Priceless NY Kid Food Blogger Experience. They not only had the opportunity to taste a few of Mario’s custom-designed dishes, but pique the muse of young writers anxious to put pen to paper. From there, we challenged the kids at the Family Picnic to submit their own blog posts—about the events, the experience, and the food prepared by Mario and his team of talented chefs.

Out of the submissions we’ve received since then, it was two sisters—Grace and Maria Carolonza—who best captured their creativity during that day in the Family Garden. For their written deliciousness, they’ll be splitting a prize pack valued at $200, including a four-pack of NYBG tickets, Mario Batali merchandise, and more. But the real prize, at least from my (admittedly biased) perspective, is getting their writing published on Plant Talk! Head below for more from the talented Carolonza sisters. If they keep with it, I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of them in the future—holding New York’s finest restaurants to the standards set by their Michelin Stars.

Mario Batali's Kitchen Gardens

Grace Carolonza

Enthusiasm. This vibe came off of Mario Batali and Daphne Oz as they expertly prepared their recipes in front of a captivated audience. How did these lucky people (myself included) get the chance to see two master chefs at work?

The New York Botanical Gardens hosted the Edible Academy Family Picnic on June 10, 2013. Families were invited to take part in various activities centered around nourishing, garden grown food. It was hard not to notice the eagerness on everyone’s faces during this educational yet fun family style event. While I thoroughly enjoyed the entire experience, my favorite part was the cooking demonstration by Mario Batali and his co-star, Daphne Oz.

Oz and Batali first signed copies of their new cookbooks. Then they demonstrated their cooking talents for a curious and hungry audience. My family and I were lucky enough to have close seats! Batali prepared beautiful handmade ravioli, and Oz created a sensational garlic bread with goat cheese appetizer. She also crafted a marvelous toffee-cherry profiterole, which probably tasted even better than it looked. All of the food was healthy and looked heavenly. Batali and Oz used fruits and vegetables from the NYBG. They were inspiring and entertaining to watch. They offered helpful cooking tips while poking humorous fun at one another. Their smiles and love of healthy, fresh, homemade food was contagious. Their passion for wholesome foods and support of the Edible Academy left me truly inspired.

I am extremely grateful to have had the experience of watching two gifted chefs in their element. It left me with the notion of one day putting my passion for creating healthy meals to work as they did. For now, I will be sampling recipes from their superb cookbooks, and supporting the Edible Academy!


Mary Carolonza

On June 10th my family and I had the opportunity to attend the Edible Academy Family Picnic in The New York Botanical Garden. The heavy downpour of rain that day challenged the initial intent of holding this event outdoors, but fortunately plans had been made in advance to accommodate this inconvenience and the festivities did not need to be rescheduled. Everyone working at the event was knowledgeable and enthusiastic, and the contagious sunshine in their smiles helped to brighten up an otherwise dreary day.

My favorite memory is the book signing and cooking demonstration by Mario Batali and Daphne Oz. As I stood in line and eagerly flipped through each of their cookbooks, I familiarized myself with each chef and their recipes. Taking a picture with each of the foodie authors enhanced my experience because both shared in the enthusiasm of the staff. Afterward, the two chefs worked on a stage where ingredients and appliances were set in place as a captivated audience watched from the rows of chairs in front.

The menu that night was beet tartar, eggplant ravioli, and a cherry crumble with honey hazelnut toffee. I loved the emphasis that was placed on healthy cooking, with the usage of vegetables, olive oil, and honey. Mario and Daphne were a great team. Mario offered interesting advice, like ravioli filling should coat the noodle when cut, instead of stay firm. Perhaps my favorite part of the cooking demonstration was after the food was prepared. This is because when two of the younger audience members spoke for everybody by remarking how delicious the dishes looked, Daphne gave them each a sample! “Happy, healthy, and full of fun!” was what Daphne had written when she autographed my cookbook, and it is a fantastic line to sum up the day!