Sun Spotlight: Meet the “Kitchen Twins”

Last Thursday, Lyla and Emily Allen were seen skipping toward Princeton Day School’s chicken coop to collect some eggs for their Food and Garden Club. After field hockey practice, the bright-eyed “Kitchen Twins,” who turned 12 Oct. 28, gathered with friends to mix together some pancakes made from “bloody blend” red corn flour – it was, after all, two days before Halloween.

Their school club is only one of the ways these twins express their passion for cooking, ignited when they were only 3 years old. By the time they turned 9, Emily and Lyla created a healthy food blog and began cooking demonstrations at grocery stores, local schools and Boys & Girls clubs. At age 10, they won first place at a regional entrepreneurial competition, and by spring of fifth grade, the “Kitchen Twins” launched their first healthy food product.

“Make Your Own Kale Chips,” available at 300 grocery stores including Whole Foods, Acme and Shoprite, is a fresh bag full of health and packed with love.

“We’ve always loved kale chips,” Emily said.

“And we’re surrounded by our parents always in the kitchen,” Lyla added.

“There were no kale chips out there. They’re always so expensive and fragile and over seasoned. It’s like an expensive bag of crumbs. We wanted to make kale chips that were all kale,” Emily continued. “The kale is the best part! It’s simple.”

The girls, who speak confidently, excitedly and sometimes simultaneously, explained how their product works.

“You find it in the produce section. It’s a bag of fresh, pre-washed kale. Every bag comes with a packet of olive oil. There’s original and toasted coconut. The toasted coconut comes with a packet of those, too. You just add the seasoning, shake the bag and bake it. It’s like ‘Shake and Bake’ meets kale chips,” Emily and Lyla said together.

The girls’ first experience in the kitchen was baking Christmas cookies with their grandmother. In addition to cooking and being full-time students and entrepreneurs, the sisters enjoy lacrosse, field hockey and will have a go at fencing this winter. Emily’s favorite dish at the moment is is pad thai and Lyla’s is veggie sushi.

“We showed our parents,” Lyla said.

“Tried to show our parents,” her sister emphasized.

“How to make sushi, but they kept asking ‘how do I do this?’ So we ended up just doing the whole thing,” Lyla giggled.

Lyla went on to describe her biggest “cooking catastrophe.”

“Everyone needs to have a cooking catastrophe because that’s how you learn. One time I was making homemade thin mints dipped in chocolate. I walked over to the table carrying them with only one hand – I had something in my other hand – and dropped the whole platter. They went everywhere!”

Emily too has had her hiccups in the kitchen: “I was making these muffin-cupcakes with apple cider vinegar instead of eggs, and I put way too much vinegar in – like half a cup when I was supposed to only do like a quarter tablespoon. Ewww, they were dis-gus-ting!”

With each little mistake making them better chefs and bakers, the “Kitchen Twins” strive to one day have a cooking show and a line of “Kitchen Twin” accessories. This month, they competed against four other entrepreneurs – who, according to the girls, were all adults – at a “shark tank” competition in Bucks County, Pa. They won $1,000 for their efforts and are thinking of using it to improve the packaging of their kale chips.

To keep up with the “Kitchen Twins,” their healthy eating and “Kitchen Curiosities,” a series where Emily and Lyla interview notables in the food industry, visit www.kitchen-twins.com.

“Our favorite thing about being a kitchen twin,” Emily said,  “is sharing our love of cooking with everyone.”

About Erica Chayes Wida

Erica Chayes Wida is a writer, mom, and complete zealot when it comes to poetry, paella and globe collections. After graduating with a degree in Anthropology from UCLA, Erica moved to Italy where the seasons and old architecture inspired her journey back to the East Coast. Since then, she and her husband have created a nest egg locally and, over time, developed a rather grand love affair with the town of Princeton. Erica is senior editor at The Princeton Sun and enjoys fulfilling her Princeton affections on a daily basis. | View all posts by Erica Chayes Wida