Hape Cooking Essentials Wooden Play Food Set Review

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Reviewed by Louise Totton

There is something wonderful about wooden toys – they feel special and remind me of my own childhood. When my girls were younger, I used to love buying wooden toys for them as they last longer, feel more tactile and are far more robust than their plastic alternatives, so if I am looking for presents for birthdays for special little people in my life, I always look out for wooden items.

We all know the famous wooden toy brands, but over the last year or so, I have learned about another one: Hape (they are bigger in their native Germany than in the UK). Hape make some really lovely and robust, quality toys for young children, so with my niece’s third birthday looming, I was delighted to be able to try out something from their range. She already has a toy kitchen at home, along with mountains of plastic food and utensils and she adores playing with them, so I decided on the Cooking Essentials set, which has everything a budding chef might need. The set includes:

  • Wooden chopping board
  • Chef’s knife
  • Vegetable peel
  • Cheese grater
  • Carrot for slicing
  • Red onion for chopping
  • Swiss cheese for cutting
  • Tomato with seeds inside
  • Radish with soft leaves
  • Potato for grating

The set is absolutely stunning! It comes packaged in a cardboard box, and within the cardboard box is a lovely thick paper grocery bag containing all of the component parts and it can be used again in imaginative play later for when the kids are going ‘shopping’ for ingredients. I was over the moon with it when I unpacked it – every single one of the items is beautifully and smoothly shaped and is painted really nicely with lovely attention to detail.

All but one of the food parts can be cut into two pieces using the wooden knife – the two sides are Velcroed together and it’s so easy to pop the knife into the groove and slice it in half. When you do slice it, the attention to detail inside the food is really lovely to see. I think my personal favourite is the tomato, where you can remove the stalk before using the knife to slice it into two and reveal the flesh and seeds inside. The radish has lovely, soft and tactile felt leaves which the kids loved to stroke, and the cheese is swiss cheese with little gaps and holes – perfect for tiny fingers to explore. The pattern inside the red onion is really lovely and reminded me how fascinated I used to be with what the inside of a red cabbage looked like when I was a child. My niece particularly loved the potato, which is ridged so makes an interesting scaping sound when it is being used with either the grater or vegetable peeler.  

This is a wonderful little set and one that I’m sure my niece will get years of play out of. It’s fantastic that all of the food items in it would contribute to a healthy, varied diet and would serve as a good introduction to talking to children about healthy foods and making the right choices about what we eat. It is more expensive than plastic food but the quality is better and I think we all need to think about how much plastic we are buying and using. The wood in Hape’s toys all comes from sustainable sources and they work hard to ensure their products are eco-friendly and socially responsible, making for both happy children and a happy planet!

Rating: 5/5

RRP: £24.99

For more information visit www.hape.com. Available to buy from Amazon here.

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