The Culinary Prodigy

Published November, 2008

Lizzie Marie Likness, age 8, is taking the (cooking) world by storm

While most 8-year-olds are only beginning to imagine what they might become when they grow up, Lizzie Marie Likness is already the head of her own company. The Creative Culinary Officer of Lizzie Marie Cuisine, based in her Woodstock, Ga., home, Likness started out as a kitchen helper while still a toddler, helping her mom, Doreen, make applesauce. At 6, she graduated to making treats to sell at the local farmers' market. The impetus was finding a way to pay for riding lessons.

"We had a family talk about it and my mom asked me what product or service can I do that would also be of value to people," says Lizzie Marie. "I can cook is what I told her. She asked me why my cooking was different. I said it was because I only use fresh and healthy ingredients."

By 7, Lizzie Marie and her mother, with the help of Lizzie Marie’s father, Jeremy, an IT director, launched a website,, so she could film her own instructional cooking shows and inspire others, both kids, parents and grandparents, to adopt a healthy lifestyle.

"I guess you could say our mission is to inform everyone about the importance of eating healthy foods and exercising,” adds Lizzie Marie’s mom. “My husband and I have never told Lizzie Marie she can’t do anything or [that she] is too young to try new things,” adds Likness, 41. “She is a very ambitious young entrepreneur who is on a mission to educate the world about  how important healthy eating is.”

Although Lizzie Marie's classes are often geared toward her peers, she hopes to appeal to "both adults and kids because," she says, "I don’t want to be just a kids’ chef, I want to involve the whole family."

For Lizzie Marie’s grandparents, who live in Sebring, Fla., her website serves as a personal way to stay connected. "Sharing recipes by video is so much fun," she says. "My grandparents get so excited when they see a video of me making one of their recipes." Some of her grandparents’ recipes that she has adapted include a chili vinaigrette for salad and a variation on her grandmother’s chop suey that had used canned bean sprouts. When they are together, Lizzie Marie says that she loves to whip up breakfast, especially bacon, eggs, and pancakes, with her grandparents.

Mature beyond her years, Lizzie Marie hopes her business will grow and that she will become a household name. She also wants people to realize that it is ok to make "bloopers" in the kitchen and that grandparents should not be afraid to experiment with their grandkids. "Sometimes, a mistake in a recipe can end up creating a better- tasting result," she says.

Healthy Eating Tips From A Future Chef

Lizzie Marie Likness, 8, is the recipient of the "Del Monte Do Something Good for You!" grant for her Tasty Tidbits cooking classes. Likness' goals include promoting healthy cooking through fitness and the use of fresh, natural foods, writing cookbooks, and when she’s of age, attending either Le Cordon Bleu in Paris or the French Culinary Institute in New York City. In the meantime, she hosts classes in her Atlanta community and teaches via video on her website. Enjoy some of her recipes and tips below with your own grandchildren.

Tips for healthy eating:
1. Grandparents can make healthy meals into a fun activity by putting a twist on something conventional — making AB&J Sushi Rolls, for instance.
2. Take grandchildren shopping so they can see and learn about new fruits and veggies.
3. It is important to do perimeter shopping — stay away from the center of the store where unhealthy foods are; healthy foods are always found on the perimeter of the store.
4. When I teach my Tasty Tidbits Cooking Class, I have three rules: ABC
A – Always be willing to try new things, always have an adult with you in the kitchen
B – Be careful in the kitchen, don’t run with forks or knives
C – Clean kitchen, clean food. Don’t cook a meal if your kitchen countertops are dirty, always have a clean cooking area.

Likness says blogging is a great way for children to express their feelings, meet new friends, and journal their day to share with their grandparents. A good place to create a blog is where grandparents can learn how to help create a blog with their grandchildren.
Blogging can create a virtual family cookbook where grandparents share stories about their own experiences with healthy foods, funny experiences in the kitchen (like if they ever forgot to put the lid on a blender and everything splattered everywhere), and other food-related tales. This is also a place to share family recipes with grandchildren.

PB&J Sushi Rolls
Lizzie Marie's peanut butter and jelly gets all rolled-up and sliced for sushi-style fun
These fun "sushi" rolls reinvent the classic PB&J sandwich. Lizzie Marie Likness uses almond butter instead of peanut butter because of what she calls “its amazing flavor” and serves the sandwich sushi style. Try to find "No-Stir" almond butter, which is a lot less messy than regular almond butter — the almond oil rises to the top of the jar and it’s hard to stir it back into the almond butter without making a mess. Likness prefers blackberry jam but encourages cooks to use their favorite flavor or experiment with new flavors, to use jam that is 100 percent all-natural fruit, and to use organic ingredients whenever possible. Watch a step-by-step video of this recipe.

2 slices whole-grain bread, crusts removed
Spoon out enough almond butter or peanut butter to spread a thin layer on bread
Spoon out enough 100 percent all-natural fruit jam to spread a thin layer on bread
1. Flatten bread with rolling pin. Spread a thin layer of almond butter or peanut butter on one slice of bread. Top the almond butter or peanut butter with a thin layer of jam. Roll up bread tightly.
2. Slice into four pieces with a serrated knife. Repeat with second slice of bread.

Yield: Serves 2.

Lizzie Marie's Gourmet Green Eggs and Ham
Scrambled eggs with pesto and prosciutto, topped with cheese, become a Tuscan favorite

Lizzie Marie Likness has created a Tuscan spin on a storybook favorite using prosciutto from Parma, Italy, and pesto for beautiful color and amazing flavor.

2 all-natural eggs
1 tablespoon all-natural pesto
1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 paper-thin slices proscuitto, torn into bite-size pieces
To taste Parmesan Reggiano cheese, grated
*Note: if prosciutto is not available, use 1/4 cup chopped ham, turkey, or other healthy deli meat.

Heat pan on medium, add oil to coat pan. Crack eggs into mixing bowl, add pesto and ham, loosely scramble with a fork. Pour egg mixture into pan and slowly move eggs with a spatula (in a push-and-pull motion) until cooked. Top with cheese.