Wednesday 25 November 2009

Coming of age

It is interesting and unexpected when turning points arise in our lives. We may see the same person, the same scene every day and be unaware of the small changes, the signs of growth and the passage of time. Then, one day, we realise that they have changed, and things will never be the same again. Today was such a day.

Sora, my daughter, turned twelve last month. I baked her a cake, Mika decorated it, and we all sang happy birthday as we have for the last twelve years. She is now in year 6 at primary school, and every year the grade sixers at our local school get a chance to learn how to cook a five course dinner, taught by a professional chef.
His name is Kazunori Otowa, the french cuisine owner chef of Otowa Restaurant in Utsunomiya, the prefectural capital. First they went to his restaurant and enjoyed a meal there, then he and his staff came to the school to teach the children how to prepare the meal. But today......

Today the children prepared a meal for their parents, dividing into five groups, each group responsible for a separate course. They then prepared the meal from scratch for a total of sixty people, students and parents, and the parents were allowed to watch, but not interfere!

Of course the meal needed plates, and each child had to take dishes from home, so over the weekend Sora selected out some of my vessels for the meal. I watched, as the children cooked under Otowa chefs guidance, biting my tongue. The other parents shared this new spectator status, wanting to help, advise...but we must merely watch and wait.
I set up a small photo space on the window ledge, and as each course was served I photographed it just as they served it!

I have always said that my vessels are only complete when they are in use, and today my daughter and her friends took my vessels and served me a delicious five course french meal on them. As I ate, as I enjoyed this beautiful cuisine, I realised that this was a turning point. My child had become my creative partner, completing my works for me in delightful and independent ways.

I remain, as always, the happiest bloke I know.


  1. wow, such a beautiful piece.. the pics, your words and your daughters cooking...just amazing she chose the dishes well..i really like the 1st and last ending and starting very well, like a great portfolio..

  2. What a beautiful post! My turning point was this year in April when my daughter turned sixteen. I cried all morning :) I saw a great piece Sunday morning on TV of a high school in Philadelphia that has a cooking class and the kids compete in competitions for scholarship funding. The instructor was so inspirational. Your daughter's presentation is fabulous!!

  3. How right and very perceptive you are! And so very lucky, too. Not many parents get the chance to work in partnership with a child in an act of creation. I envy you no end!

  4. I am reading your post on the day after Thanksgiving. Our family prepared dinner together, using a mixure of personal ceramic dishes and other family heirlooms. Greater meaning is given to an event as children grow and share in learning about their heritage. It is a gift to have the time to teach, observe, reflect and feel proud of tradition. We must savor these moments and always make time for them.

  5. truely a heart warming story....and photography and vessels...keep a copy for her 16th birthday.