Big Chef Mini Chef Cookbook Review

May 10, 2019
Big chef mini chef cookbook on a table

Big Chef Mini Chef is a cookbook by Matei Baran which aims to get kids cooking with healthy ingredients. A great book to get you cooking with your kids.

I was sent the cookbook in return for an honest review.

I am firmly of the belief that you can never have too many cookbooks. If you feel you are stuck in a cooking rut just pick up a recipe book. It will inspire you get try something new.

The ability to cook is one of the most important things we can pass onto our children. Making a simple home cooked meal is a pleasure they will enjoy. It is also a great social skill. Friends and family will always jump at the chance to come round for a home cooked meal. It is not so easy to find time to spend with your kids in the kitchen when you work full time. Any book that helps inspire this has to be a good thing.

Big chef mini chef cookbook on a table

Recently I was sent the Big Chef Mini Chef cookbook to review. Written by chef Matei Baran, the book aims to inspire kids to cook healthy recipes. The book features recipes made by Matei and his son Armin with a number of other mini chefs. All the proceeds from the book go to the Cystic Fibrosis Trust.

Read more: My Family Kitchen by Sophie Thompson

Big Chef Mini Chef Cookbook

The Big Chef Mini Chef cookbook takes its inspiration from the bravery of chef Martei Baran’s son Armin. Born with cystic fibrosis he was a very ill baby coping with bravery and determination.

Eating healthy food is important, especially if you are ill. The Big Chef Mini Chef cookbook creates healthy recipes that kids will enjoy making. The recipes have been put to the test by many mini chefs who are shown throughout the book.

Picture from the inside of big chef mini chef cookbook showing the chef and his son

Who is Matei Baran?

Matei Baran came to the North East in 2009. He has been chef in a number of North East restaurants over the years. These include head chef at Newcastle’s Jurys Inn and Salt Cove Tynemouth, executive head chef at the Bannatyne Hotel Darlington and the Northumberland Arms in Felton. He was also a quarter finalist in TV’s Master Chef: The Professionals.

Read more: Fairy Tale Baking

Inside the cookbook

The inside of the cookbook is a visual delight with glorious pictures of food and the mini chefs that help create the dishes.

The recipes in the book are a celebration of cooking. Simple dishes which have been given the master chef twist to make them look really special. The children look happy and proud of their creations.

There are five main sections in the book, Dishes, Hopewood Academy, Maia’s birthday party, More Dishes and The Project.

The Recipes

The dishes section is full of delicious looking recipes. These range from Armens mac and cheese topped with a soft poached egg to fruit of the forest tart with custard and crumble. Some of the recipes get their names from the mini chefs, like Connie’s Sundae. All of them beautifully photographed.

More dishes is equally inspirational and I particularly like the twists on household favourites. A fish finger sandwich is given a new lease of life with posh coleslaw. A North East classic gets a modern twist in a parmo chicken burger.

All the recipes are easy to follow with clear instructions.

Picture from inside a cookbook of fruit of the forest tart

Celebrating the Mini Chefs

Interspaced with the delicious recipes are a couple of sections with photo shoots that celebrate the mini chefs. The first section shows a day where Big Chef Matei Baran went into Hopewood Academy to create a festive afternoon tea with the children.

Hopewood Academy is a special needs school in Easington Colliery, Durham, which takes children between 2 and 19 with a variety of needs. The photographs clearly show how much fun the children had creating the afternoon tea and the joy they got from cooking themselves. The photos will put a smile on your face.

Maia’s birthday party shows children enjoying healthy and delicious food at a party. It gives some good ideas for healthy recipes that children can help to make.

The Big Chef Mini Chef Project

The last section in the book showcases the team behind the Big Chef Mini Chef project and gives thanks to the people involved. The proceeds after the costs from book sales will go to The Cystic Fibrosis Trust.

Read more: Nerdy Nummies cookbook

Recreating a recipe from the book

When I get a recipe book I always like to try a recipe to see how easy it is to make. My son had a look through the book and choose Armens ham and cheese toastie with oven baked hand cut fries.

Armens ham and cheese toastie with oven baked hand cut fries.

I had to modify the recipe slightly as I went shopping early in the morning and the bread was not yet available. I substituted paninis for a bloomer. The recipe also uses emmental cheese which is a cheese I am not keen on. Mature cheddar works just as well.

Ham and cheese toastie on a plate with a picture from the cookbook behind

The recipe was really easy to follow and tastes delicious. I would definitely make this again. The bread is spread with butter mixed with honey and mustard before the sandwich is toasted. The honey and mustard butter really brings out the flavour of the ham and cheese.

The oven baked fries were really easy to make. Just chop the potatoes into chips, mix with oil and salt and pop into a preheated oven. You need to turn them a couple of times while they cook to make sure they are done evenly.

It is a really simple recipe that children would be really happy to make.

Ham and cheese toastie on a plate

Armens ham and cheese toastie with oven baked hand cut fries recipe

Ham and cheese toastie on a plate

Armens ham and cheese toastie with oven baked fries

Matei Baran
This is a recipe from the book Big Chef Mini Chef by Matei Baran. The book contains simple recipes made from healthy ingredients to help you get cooking with kids.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine British
Servings 1 person


  • 2 slices white or brown bloomer bread
  • 50 g butter softened
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp English mustard
  • 4 slices Emmental cheese
  • 4 slices ham
  • 1 potato Maris Piper or Red Rooster


To make the hand cut fries

  • Preheat the oven to 180C
  • Wash and peel the potato
  • Slice into fries and wash again
  • Mix with cooking oil and salt
  • Spread on a baking tray and bake in the oven for ten to fifteen minutes, turning twice

To make the toastie

  • Toast the bread in the oven for a couple of minutes on both sides
  • Mix the butter with the honey and mustard
  • Spread the butter on one side of both slices of bread
  • Top one slice of bread with the ham
  • Add three slices of cheese and top with the other slice of bread
  • Put the final slice of cheese on top of the bread
  • Bake in the oven for ten minutes until the cheese melts


Serve the toastie with the hand cut fries and salad or coleslaw

What I thought of the Big Chef Mini Chef cookbook

If you are looking for an inspirational recipe book full of gorgeous pictures of food Big Chef Mini Chef ticks all the boxes. The recipes are all recipes I would love to try. They are recipes that will appeal to kids as well and help them start their culinary journey.

The book shows how much the kids love cooking. It will inspire you to try and recreate the recipes with your own kids.

All the proceeds from the book are going to the cystic fibrosis trust so by buying the book you are supporting a great cause.

The book is available from and also from Amazon (affiliate link) BIG CHEF MINI CHEF – cooking for kids with kids

Do you cook with your kids regularly? Do you have a favourite cookbook you use for inspiration? Let me know below

4 responses to “Big Chef Mini Chef Cookbook Review”

  1. Galina V says:

    Sounds like a fun book and a good source of creative recipes. I haven’t heard of this chef, I admit, but his project is inspired. Love the look of your panini. I’d be happy to tuck in.

  2. Anca says:

    What a lovely story behind the book. I remember Matei from Master Chef, so I was intrigued to see the review of his cookbook.

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