ChopChop Magazine is a quarterly food magazine, published in English and Spanish, that caters to the appetites and whims of 5 to 12 year-olds. The goal of the magazine is to encourage families to cook and eat together.
ChopChop Magazine is endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, staffed by a team of writers and food enthusiasts, and founded by chef, cookbook author and James Beard Award-nominee, Sally Sampson.
You are a mother, a writer, a cookbook author. How do these things conspire to inform your vision for ChopChop Magazine?
That’s a great question that pretty much answers itself!
I love cooking and eating—and writing about cooking and eating—and my daughter has had a chronic health issue that made healthy eating a huge priority for us. So ChopChop pretty much puts all of my passions in once place!
Why do you suppose that cooking and eating together is no longer the default in our society?
People keep getting the message that they don’t have time to cook and that fast food is faster and cheaper than eating at home. Number one: it isn’t and Number Two, even if it were, we’re finding out the real costs are of having an obesity epidemic are even higher. Everyone’s time and money would be better spent preparing simple, real meals than dealing with the fallout of bad health. But also people have gotten the idea that cooking is hard and a drag—instead of that it can be simple and rewarding and a lot of fun, which is the message that we are spreading in ChopChop. Kids are so accustomed to learning new skills anyway that they’re the perfect audience for us—they can learn to cook and lead the way and their families will follow.
You once conducted an experiment to see whether fast food is really cheaper than food cooked at home. What inspired this and what was the result? (Read about Sally’s experiment here.)
I just didn’t believe what I was reading (that it was cheaper to eat out); it didn’t make sense to me. The truth is, fast food restaurants have loss-leaders but if you go into one and order the usual junk off the menu, lunch and/or dinner is $8/$10. I knew that you could cook at home for less than that and not only did it cost less in just about every scenario, it was way more nutritious.
In what ways does ChopChop Magazine seek to change eating habits and promote family togetherness?
Our utopian vision is that families cook good, healthy meals with their kids and sit down together every night to eat them. But really, we know that this isn’t always realistic and we’re happy if they just do it more than whatever they are doing now. So, if you never sit down together, pick one day; if you eat together 3 times a week, try four. Our recipes are healthy and easy for new cooks, but not dumbed down, so they’re great for anyone who wants to start cooking—kids or adults. And if you make some of the food you eat, you’re going to be healthier as a result—pretty much all of the studies suggest as much. Plus, cooking real food together is fun, and it’s such a great opportunity to spend time and catch up—without all that face-to-face pressure that can make teenagers squirm. Can you tell that this is a passionate topic for me?
Why was it important for you to begin publishing ChopChop Magazine in Spanish?
Since 28 million people in the U.S. speak Spanish, publishing a Spanish version of the magazine simply makes sense—it increases our reach, and it means that we’re not excluding entire huge sections of the population. Of course, now we have all these ideas about publishing it in other languages as well—like Cantonese—but that’s still pretty much in the dreaming phase.
What are three kitchen tools should every kitchen have?
Wow, that is such a hard question. Can I include equipment? Cast iron skillet, spatula, measuring spoons. Oh, what am I forgetting that I use all the time?
What are three ingredients to always have on hand?
Salt, pepper, lemons.
What are three essential recipes to know?
A super versatile tomato sauce, salad dressing, scrambled eggs.
What magazine should every parent and child read together?
ChopChop, of course! Is that a trick question?