By Tim Tesconi
At 10-years-old, Audrey and Lilly Andrews, identical twins from Sonoma County, are passionate foodies, dutifully spreading the word about healthy eating and the culinary joys of farm products from their home county.
Audrey and Lilly, known as the Twin Chefs, aren’t just talking to their friends and neighbors in Sonoma County, which they do regularly at local fairs and food festivals. They have appeared on ABC’s “Good Morning America” where they did air time making pizzas with celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck, one of their culinary heroes. The girls are so cute and articulate they have been hired as the official “spokes-chefs” for Cuties California Clementines and Mandarins, which are now being marketed across the nation. The girls just returned from a taping in Atlanta to promote the healthful aspects of Cuties and to share their delicious Cuties-inspired recipes.
Working with their mom Tina Schultheiss, the angelic ambassadors of good eating maintain their own food website – www.twinchefs.net – where they share recipes, party ideas for kids and grown-ups and tips on cooking with kids. Their motto is “kid friendly food with grown-up style.”
Audrey and Lilly will bring their message of local foods and healthy eating to other kids at Sonoma County Farm Bureau’s Ag Days on March 27 and 28 at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds. There will be more than 5,000 school kids from throughout Sonoma County attending the event, which includes farm animal displays, exhibits related to the environment and resource conservation management and composting demonstrations. Ag Days are held to educate kids about Sonoma County’s annual $3 billion farm industry and the value of food grown a few miles – not thousands of miles - from where it’s consumed. At Ag Days, the twins will be partnering with Sonoma County farmers to showcase local farm products.
Audrey and Lilly said they look forward to the opportunity to help promote Sonoma County agriculture and to encourage other kids to explore healthy alternatives to junk food and mega-processed snacks. The girls’ idea of fun is going to farmers markets to scout the stalls to buy local produce and meat for the family dinner. They love Sonoma County and the abundant agriculture that defines a lifestyle that the budding chefs’ totally embrace. Their goal is to one day have their own restaurant in Sonoma County, featuring the county’s bounty and their own boundless love for delicious but simply-prepared food.
“We believe in healthy eating and cooking. We want kids to eat more fruit and vegetables and get away from fast food,” said Audrey, who says she loves to eat seasonally and locally, like heirloom tomatoes in September and Gravenstein apples in July and August. Instead of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, she will pack fresh figs and a wedge of goat cheese in her lunch bag.
Lilly likes figs and goat cheese, too, but confides she absolutely loves Brussels sprouts. She then tells about her favorite way to prepare Brussels sprouts, a dubious veggie that causes most kids to gag. Audrey said she recently tasted veal tongue for the first time and thought it was delicious.
“I didn’t like veal tongue,” said Lilly, “It was too tough.”
Despite veal tongue, both girls love just about any fruit, vegetable, cheese and meat product – as long as they are fresh and not overly processed. It’s their mission to get other kids to eat their peas and pears and kick their fast food habits. And please don’t mention McDonald’s or Burger King to Audrey and Lilly, who would never let a Big Mac pass their lips no matter how hungry they were. They said if forced to order something from McDonald’s there is only one thing they would possibly order.
“Ice water,” they say in near unison.
Lilly and Audrey were only four years old when food and cooking became their magnificent obsession, in the way other kids connect with video games, Legos or Barbie dolls. Older sister Kathryn, who is 12, doesn’t share her sisters passion for food. Kathryn loves horses, spending her time in the corral rather than the kitchen.
The girls said they became enthralled with cooking after being in the kitchen with their parents, mom Tina and dad Paul Andrews, a hazardous-materials specialist, who loves to bake and barbecue. This is a family that gleans and cooks together, often going on outings to gather the ingredients for a feast for family and friends.
When toddlers, the twins started watching the Food Network, instead of cartoons, becoming regular viewers of Alton Brown’s “Good Eats” and other cooking programs, which nurtured the girls’ innate curiosity about the world of food. There is evidence that their fascination with food is in their DNA.
Mom Tina said she knew the girls’ had a special gift for discerning food flavors when, at age 4, they argued whether a yogurt parfait had orange zest or lemon extract in it. The girls still argue occasionally over things but, says Lilly, “we fight the least when we are in the kitchen.”