Things to do in London when you’re five

Cooking with Flea is on my list of things that I should do but never quite manage, along with ‘crafting’ and learning how to do those fancy ponytail things with her hair.

So we were delighted to be invited to a Junior Chef weekend at the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington, where Flea would be taught how to cook by a team of professional chefs – result!

The Royal Garden Hotel is absolutely lovely – and unlike many 5 star hotels, it employs staff who seem to actually like children, resulting in a brilliantly friendly, attentive service. Our room was great – the best thing had to be the floor to ceiling windows with views over Hyde Park, which is next to the hotel, and the London skyline in the distance.

The next day, Flea and seven other children gathered together with the hotel’s executive chef, Steve Munkley and two assistant chefs, all of whom handled the kids brilliantly and didn’t bat an eyelid as the tables, floor, faces and walls got increasingly dusted with flour and other foodstuffs.

Each child was provided with their own workstation and the ingredients to make cookie dough, with the chefs on hand to provide demonstrations and a helping hand when it was needed.  The children then rolled out their dough and cut out cookies, which were whisked off to be cooked in the hotel kitchens.

I should point out here that making cookies with a top professional chef is VIRTUALLY identical to that time I made cookies with Flea, except for the swearing, electrical mishaps, incorrect ingredients, lack of appropriate cutters and decapitation. Yep, apart from those things, it was exactly the same sort of thing.

The kids then moved on to an exotic fruit tasting session (in which I learned the secret to persuading your child to taste prickly pear, dragon fruit and kumquat is to wear a big white hat and present it on a silver platter). There was just time for some team games before returning to the kitchen to make chocolate truffles and then decorate the cooled cookies using huge bowls of sweets and cones of royal icing.

At the end of the morning, Flea was loaded down with a big box of cookies, a box of truffles, a cook book and her personalised chef’s hat and apron, as used during the junior chef lesson. And, brilliantly, it turns out that making cookies with a professional chef resulted in some of the finest cookies we’ve ever had in our house – they were delicious!

Sadly, I can’t completely remember the recipe details but I know there was flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, eggs, butter, melted white chocolate and white chocolate chopped up. I’m almost 100% confident I can recreate the Royal Garden Hotel experience in my own kitchen. How hard can it be?

We finished off our day by heading across the road to Hyde Park. We spent a great couple of hours in the park poring over a treasure map that’s devised by the hotel – when children have solved all the clues they can head back to the hotel to claim their ‘treasure’ in the form of a knickerbocker glory ice cream.  Marvellous.

The Royal Garden Hotel has arranged two more Junior Chef workshops for October 2011 and April 2012, which can be booked as part of a 2-night break at the hotel. A great option if you’re planning a weekend trip to London.

Disclosure: We were provided with free accommodation, meals and activities for the purposes of this review. A 2-night package at the hotel for 2 adults and 2 children, including the Junior Chef workshop, costs £580 and includes dinner, breakfast and complimentary use of the on-site sauna and spa facilities. 



Sally is a full-time blogger and founder of the Tots100, Trips100, Foodies100 and HIBS100 communities, along with the MAD Blog Awards. She spends a bit too much time on the Internet. She’s also a very happy Mum to Flea, the world’s coolest ten year old.

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  1. 20th August 2011 / 12:37 pm

    forget the cookie! Did you use the sauna???

  2. 20th August 2011 / 1:48 pm

    Oh What fun!!! We loved Hyde park and would surely love a treasure hunt there!!! As for the cookies YUM!!! You guys sure do have such fun travels together, I love reading about your adventures!!!

  3. susie@newdaynewlesson
    20th August 2011 / 10:27 pm

    Sounds like a fabulous time. If you ever come to my house, i will bake with flea. Or you can get my (not really mine) chocolate chip cookie recipe from my blog. 🙂

  4. 25th April 2012 / 9:36 pm

    Wow!!! I love this post and I love your blog. I am a 22 year old mummy of 2 beautiful (sometimes!) little girlies. I am a journalism student at Sheffield Hallam University and as part of my course I was asked to start a blog in my chosen subject or topic. Being a parent I decided to write about my children, that way I could never run out of things to share with the world!
    I have never written a blog before and I decided to have a look at a few other blogs to see if I was on the right track and if I could get any tips. I also love cooking and I am a qualified chef. My long term ambition is to be a journalist of many different subjects but mainly parenting and food. That way I could cram all of my passions into one job! My children, my cooking and my writing!
    Sorry it’s a bit of a long post, but I just wondered if you could take a quick look at my blog and give me any tips and feedback you may have, not only on the blog but maybe on the job side of things too. How do you get this kind of opportunity to write amazing reviews?
    Please help!! 🙂
    Lisa Stephenson recently posted..Copy Cat (perfect timing!)My Profile

    • 25th April 2012 / 9:41 pm

      Hi Lisa

      You’ll find (a community of around 3,000 parent blogs) a great place to start – with lots of advice on blogging, reviews, increasing your readership and so on. You can also sign-up with Tots100 to do reviews and so on.

      Start following some other bloggers on Twitter (I’m @swhittle and Tots100 is @tots100) and joining in with conversations – you’ll soon get into the swing of it.

      Best of luck