Kids serve up family fun at Mini Chefs event

Posted June 14, 2009, at 8:39 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — Even though Jazzmin Bean and Koby Bean aren’t yet in kindergarten, the Corinth cousins made their own lunch Saturday.

Jazzmin, 2½, and Koby, 4, carefully spread pizza sauce on prepared dough, then sprinkled mozzarella cheese over it. Next, they poured strawberries over shortcake and topped it off with whipped cream.

The cousins didn’t make themselves the relatively well-balanced meal at home in their own kitchens. Jazzmin and Koby, along with about 100 other children, fixed lunch at center court in the Bangor Mall during the Simon Kidgits Club Super Duper Mini Chefs event.

“I made a pizza with cheese and sauce,” Jazzmin said, as she stood between the legs of her father, Eric Bean, 31, of Corinth. “I’m going to take it home.”

“And share it with … ,” prompted her mother, Christina Bean, 24, of Corinth.

“My cousin,” the girl replied, pointing to Koby.

Koby, who attended the event with his grandmother Guylene Bean, 53, of Corinth was too shy and too busy munching on trail mix with ingredients he had placed in an ice cream cone to speak with a reporter.

Families like the Beans are the reason Uno Chicago Grill provided ingredients for the pizzas and boxes so they could be carried home to be cooked, said Christine McLain, the personal touch manager for the restaurant located on Bangor Mall property.

“This is great for kids, and letting them do it themselves helps with their hand-eye coordination,” she said. “It’s also important that they are doing it with their parents. Sometimes it’s tough for busy family members to all sit down and share a meal together. By taking part in this event, Uno’s is promoting families coming to the restaurant to share a meal together.”

At the restaurant, children are allowed to make their own pizzas, according to McLain, who also helps nonprofit organizations raise money through its Dough Raiser program.

The Bangor Mall, which is owned by Kravco Simon Co. in King of Prussia, Pa., has been offering Kidgits Club events for four years, Kimberly Reid, director of mall marketing, said Saturday. The mall sponsors nine events a year for club members ages 2 to 8.

“It’s designed to bring traffic into the mall,” Reid said. “We usually plan an event that lasts about an hour and ends with a raffle with items around the theme that have been donated by merchants. Today, the prizes are connected to cooking.”

Ainsley Carr, 4, of Hermon clutched a raffle ticket as she waited for the winning numbers to be called with her mother, Melissa Carr, 32, of Hermon.

“This a really awesome program,” Melissa Carr said of the Kidgits Club. “It does so much for the kids for such a little amount. We take advantage of it every time.”

The cost of registering for the club is $5 a year per child, according to Reid. Children receive membership cards, free gifts on their birthdays and special gifts at events.

Members received a minichef set Saturday that included a muffin tin, small mixing bowl, a whisk and cookie cutters.

Ainsley Carr said she planned to use her new utensils to make cookies, but not until after the raffle.

For more information on the Simon Kidgits Club, visit www.simon.com/kidgits or pick up a registration packet at the information booth at the Bangor Mall.

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