Cooking is Hard!

“Stop changing the TV channel! I’m trying to watch Chopped!” said Maggie, shaking her head.

Her brother, Michael, said, “Why? I want to watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.”

“That show is boring,” Maggie said.

Their mom entered the room and said, “Maggie, no more TV. You have to go and do your homework!”

“Aw man,” Maggie said sadly.

“Na-na-na boo-boo I get to watch TV, but you don’t!” Michael chanted.

“No more TV for you either, Michael,” their mom said.

Maggie stuck her tongue out at Michael and mouthed, “Na-na-na boo-boo to you.”

“Mommm!” Michael cried.

“Maggie, go to your room,” their mom said.

Michael grinned, satisfied.

“Michael, go to your room,” their mom said.

Michael slumped and stomped up to his room. Maggie went up to her room, but instead of doing her homework, she wrote and doodled about being a famous chef. She imagined being a big star. A meat chef, not a pastry chef. She doodled about being really famous and winning a lot of awards and getting to meet the president.

Soon, her step-dad called, “Time for dinner!”

Maggie glanced up at the clock. It was already 6 o’clock!

She said, “Just a minute!” and quickly locked up her diary that she was writing in. (She kept all her secret stuff in it.)

For dinner, her step-dad made hamburgers, but Maggie got a cheeseburger, as always. He was a chef at The Meat Place, where they cooked the food in front of you. Maggie smelled the hamburgers and licked her lips.

Then, after dinner, when her step-dad was cleaning the kitchen, Maggie went into his room and saw the trophy he won when he was one of those great, famous chefs. He decided that he didn’t want to be famous and got a job at a small restaurant in the Upper West Side. He and Maggie’s mom married when she was six years old, and then he retired.

Maggie took the trophy off the big shelf. She looked at it and touched it. It was a big, cool silver trophy. Then, she looked at a letter President John wrote to him: “Do you want to be one of the chefs who cooks for me in The White House and is on TV a lot?” and more stuff that Maggie didn’t understand.

But her step-dad wrote back that he didn’t want to be one of those big chefs and just wanted to work at those little restaurants in town. Maggie was proud of her step-dad. Then, she heard him walking down the hallway.

“Uh-oh!” Maggie knew he would be mad if he knew she was touching his prized stuff, so she quickly left the room.

Then, she heard her mother call her.

“Maggie, it’s time to go to bed!”

Maggie looked at the clock and pouted.

“But Mom, it’s only 8:30!”

“I know, Maggie. But your dad is taking you to his work tomorrow.”

“Really? Okay!” Maggie said, excitedly.

That night, she dreamed of what her father’s work would be like. She dreamed that it would be a big place with tons of customers, and everybody would love the place, and that it would be so fun!

The next morning, her mom called, “Maggie! Maggie! Wake up!”

Maggie sat up, tired and grudgingly, and looked up at the clock.

“Mom, it’s only 6:00 clock.”

“I know! But your father has to get to work on time!”

Then Maggie remembered that she was going to her father’s restaurant today.

“Okay, Mom!” she said, jumping out of bed.

She put on her best dress and combed her hair. She wanted to look nice today. She saw Michael in the living room, pouting.

“But I want to go to Dad’s work too,” he was saying.

She met her dad outside their house. He was wearing a tie and a suit.

“Why are you wearing a tie and a suit? I thought you were going to be cooking today,” said Maggie.

“Well, I’m not going to be cooking today, Maggie. I don’t cook everyday. Today, I’m going to be looking around and helping and making sure the restaurant is perfect.”

Maggie was a little bit disappointed. But then she said to herself, It’s going to be okay. Then, she walked with her step-dad to the subway.

Maggie lived in Hoboken, so she took the NJ transit bus to get to Manhattan. When they got to Manhattan, they took the subway to the Upper West Side. They got off at 61st Street and, the restaurant was on 65th Street. Maggie saw lots of cars, a lot of people running around, and a lot of cool restaurants.

Then Maggie’s dad said, “Close your eyes, Maggie.”

”Okay,” Maggie said.

Then, her dad said, “Readyyy. Okay, open!”

Maggie opened her eyes, and she saw a really tiny place that didn’t have any fun stuff on the outside.

“Is this the store?” Maggie asked her dad, confused.

“Uh-uh,” Maggie’s dad said. “Do you like it?”

I don’t really like it, Maggie thought, but maybe inside’s better.

“Uhm, it’s cool, Dad,” she said, hoping that the inside would be cool.

“Okay. Wanna go inside?”

“Okay,” Maggie said.

They walked inside, and Maggie looked around, and it was empty. It was really empty.

“So how do you like it?”

“Where are the people?” Maggie asked.

“Well it is a meat place,” her dad said. “What would people be doing here at 9 in the morning?”

“Where is the staff?” Maggie asked.

“They are all in the kitchen.”

Then a customer walked in.

Her father said, “Yes, ma’am. What would you like?”

“Is this the book place?” the women asked.

“No, wrong address. This is the meat place. Now would you like to sit down and order something to eat?”

“Oh no, I’m sorry,” said the women and left the shop.

“What was all that about?” Maggie asked her dad. 

“I have no idea. A lot of people do that at our shop… We barely have any customers.”

“Can we go and take a walk?”

“Sure, Maggie. Why?”

“I will explain while we walk.”


They walked  out of the store and into the park.

“You see, Dad, well…

“Yes, Maggie.”

“Well… Dadiwanttobeafamous-”

“Slow down.”

“Dad… I want to be a famous chef. Everything you weren’t. I want to learn how to cook. I want to meet the president. But I can’t do it all. Can you help me?”

“Well… I do have a friend who has a cousin whose father owns a cooking show called, The Next Big Kid Chef.”

“Oh, Dad.”

“We have to check with Mom first.”

Maggie groaned.


“No way! Uh-uh. Maggie is so not doing a cooking show! She could get hurt. She’s too young. John, what are you thinking?” her mom said.

“But, Mom…”

“But nothing!” her mom said angrily. “Go to your room!”

“Ugh,” said Maggie, but she trudged upstairs.

“But, Ariana, it’s what she wants.”                               

Later at dinner, her dad said, “Maggie, guess what?”

“What?” Maggie said grimly.

Her mom, Ariana said, “I’ve agreed, Maggie.”

“To what?” Maggie said again.

Her parents were confusing her.

“To let you try out at the cooking show, hunny,” said Ariana.   

“Really?!” Maggie responded.

“Really,” her mom said back.

Maggie jumped out of her chair and put her hands up in the air.

“Wow, thanks so much, Mom and Dad.”

Then she ran over and hugged them both.

“But first you have to learn how to cook,” her mom said.

“Maggie doesn’t know how to cook. Maggie doesn’t know how to cook,” her brother chanted.

“I’m going to learn,” Maggie said, crossing her arms.

“It’s okay with me if you get a little messy, and stop messing around, Michael,” said her mom.

“Okay, when can we start,” Maggie said excitedly.

Her mom and dad responded at the same time, “Tomorrow.”   

“Yay!” said Maggie. “I can’t wait.”

“Toast to Maggie,” her dad said, raising his wine glass.

“To Maggie,” her mom said.

“What about me, Maggie?” said her brother.

“To me!” Maggie said joyfully.


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