Meet kids who love to make and share good food with their families, and try their favorite dishes with your gang.
By Shanice Maxwell
“It’s not hard to make my family happy so I don’t get nervous anymore wondering if they’ll like what I’m making.”
Davina Johnson of Brockton, Massachusetts dreams of becoming a movie producer, actress, singer, and Olympian. Good thing the 12-year-old is already displaying exceptional abilities in managing a busy schedule, juggling school and sports while making time to cook for her grandparents, mother, and siblings.
“When I see my family sitting down and enjoying something I made, it makes me feel proud because I made it and they like it,” says Johnson, the oldest of three kids.
She was just 9 when she started helping her grandmother cook breakfast, her favorite meal to prepare. “I was nervous because I was just learning, but then it became fun,” she says. Johnson recalls how her grandmother showed her how to add ingredients and follow directions. “I’m happy I didn’t give up,” she says. Now she gets a lot of pleasure watching her family enjoy her specialties: pancakes, sausage, sandwiches, grilled cheese, and tacos.
Johnson thinks of cooking as a kind of break from her schedule. She prepares two meals each week for her family. “It’s not hard to make them happy, so I don’t get nervous [anymore] wondering if they’ll like what I’m making.”
The sixth-grader looks forward to being in the kitchen and trying out new things Johnson, like the rest of her family, doesn’t usually use cookbooks or even follow strict recipes. Instead, the family members taste as they go and rely on their memories of homemade traditions whenever they cook. This often results in pleasant surprises, allowing Johnson to create new, serendipitous twists on familiar dishes that turn out to be remarkably tasty.
While not every preteen volunteers to help out around the house, Johnson doesn’t think of cooking as a chore, and she doesn’t wait for her mother to ask her to cook before she jumps into action. She giggles as she shares how she never thought she’d enjoy cooking so much that she’d want to get up early to make breakfast for her family. In fact, she’s a little surprised to be the focus of a magazine story for something she does simply to please the people she loves.
But to those who know her, Johnson’s accomplishments, in every arena, are never unexpected. A humble young girl with admirable dreams, she’s always striving to achieve success both in and outside of the classroom, not for attention or recognition but just because she likes doing her best, and most importantly, being nice just to be nice. “I hope people my age won’t be afraid to try what I’m doing or go try something new,” she says.