Fluffy and moist, the secret to Harry Harrison Twomey's ham omelette appears to lie in the fingers. 'You've got to add bits of ham to the eggs like this,' he says, ripping a slice of ham into uneven slivers with his fingers. It seems so simple, it's almost childish. Then again, our young chef is only 10. Despite having a kitchen full of prepared food and cheap Shek O eateries right outside his apartment, the Primary Five student from Hong Kong Academy Primary School prefers cooking and eating his own creations. His mum, Suzanne, taught him how to use a stove one day and the aspiring surfer hasn't looked back. Omelettes are his speciality, though he likes to experiment with pancakes and chocolate. 'It makes me feel grown up. Sometimes my mum asks me to cook dinner too.' In a city where some children don't even carry their own schoolbags, it can be hard to find a child who cooks his own food. Fearful of worst-case scenarios involving knives and gas burners, parents often shoo their kids away when food is being prepared. And Hong Kong's love affair with domestic helpers ensures some children - and parents - never step into their kitchens. But research suggests such caution is needless. In a US study conducted by Columbia University's Teacher's College, children from kindergarten to sixth grade took part in cooking classes. The study found that having a role in the kitchen made them less picky eaters. In Britain, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has long advocated teaching children how to cook in order to combat childhood obesity. The government is now distributing free children's cookbooks at schools, with recipes for spaghetti, soup, apple crumble and, of course, the national dish, chicken tikka. Daphne Wu Mei-yi, a dietician at Matilda Hospital, encourages parents to let their children shop for and prepare food. '[Children] learn so much from parents and the environment. If parents involve them in preparing healthy foods, children can develop healthy attitudes towards fruits and vegetables, too.' And bringing children into the kitchen has a social benefit as well, as Shirley Ching Yam-mei has found. She lets her three-year-old daughter Hope make simple items like milkshakes, sandwiches and rice. 'It's really good for mother-daughter bonding. Sometimes people say 'Oh, how can you let her in the kitchen ... she's just a baby!' But bringing them into a kitchen is a gradual process. Those people who claim they don't know if their kids can handle it probably don't spend enough time with their kids.' If you wonder how a three-year-old can cook rice, her mum explains: 'She can wash the rice, count the number of cups we need and measure [them]. It's a great teaching tool.' Martha Sherpa, who runs a cooking school here, says children are never too young to enter the kitchen. Most Hong Kong families, she says, are far too protective. 'I've met so many teens who don't know the difference between oil and water, garlic and shallots. It's sad, really.' So what are you waiting for? Get cooking!