Kid Chef Eliana got her first set of knives at 8. Now 16, she’s building a cooking empire.
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When she was 8, Eliana de Las Casas posted her first video online. It was the first step in her taking the cooking world by storm.

Eliana grew up in a home where food was a favorite pastime. Family gatherings were centered around the kitchen, and she loved being a part of that. And with grandparents from the Philippines, Cuba, and Honduras — as well as Louisiana, where she lives — there was a lot of good cooking happening.

At around 4 years old, Eliana begged her mom to let her help out with meals.


"I just loved seeing everyone cooking in my family," she said. "And one day I was like, 'Mom, can I help?'... At 4 years old, I wrote my first recipe for strawberry and cream cheese sandwiches for a Valentine’s Day party."

By 8, she’d received her first knife set and was a full-fledged chef putting together her own meals and getting creative with recipes. She’d stumbled upon her first love.

All images via Kid Chef Eliana, used with permission.

"I have never said, 'Oh, I want to be a doctor, a singer, or whatever.' I’ve always — ever since I was 4 — I was like, 'I want to be a chef.'"

And Eliana's family supported her. In fact, there’s a chance none of this would have happened without them. Her mom, who is a published author, encouraged her to write a food blog one summer to keep developing her writing skills while the school year was on break. She dove into this assignment headfirst and loved it so much that she never stopped.

It was Eliana's sister who suggested she post cooking tutorials on YouTube. When her show took off, the entire family chipped in to help her self-publish her first cookbook, contributing recipes and funds. They gave her the support she needed, and she let her own passion drive her.

Kid Chef Eliana's crab-stuffed tomato dish. Hungry just looking at it!

Today, she’s known as Kid Chef Eliana, and she helps both parents and kids find their way into the kitchen.

She wants to make it easier for kids to get in the kitchen so that they don’t experience the young adult moment of shock and disorientation when they don’t have their parents to supply all of their meals. An endless diet of ramen doesn’t have to be the answer if kids develop basic cooking skills.

She's also on a mission to spread the word that food that's good for you doesn’t have to be bland. She encourages families to approach all foods with moderation and says she and her family indulge occasionally — they do live in the land of Cajun food after all — but they know that not every meal needs to be filled with bacon and butter. She put together an entire cookbook of some of her favorite recipes using fresh foods to give families a few ideas for delicious meals.

The most important thing, she says, is for families to just start somewhere — wherever they can.

It can be cooking a few meals per week. Or planting an herb garden and letting it grow; Eliana started her own to cut down on produce costs and now has fun growing her own herbs and vegetables.

And even though she’s getting older, Eliana isn’t leaving her audience behind. She still thinks there’s a strong need for kid-friendly cooking shows. "A lot of people only will cater to adults. ... I want kids and different families to learn how to cook. Food brings people together, and I think that’s something that’s really important."

Even with all that Kid Chef Eliana has done, this is still only the beginning for her.

She's about to launch her own line of spices. She’s starting with one family-friendly Cajun blend that has less salt and less heat than other ones on the market but which is equally delicious. She wants to launch a line of cookware for kids, and her focus is laser-set on getting her own cooking show (her numerous TV appearances are preparing her well).

With the way she’s accomplished everything she’s set her mind to so far, it seems likely that those achievements are on the horizon.

"As I keep going I’ll add more things that I want to do," she said.

She's introduced thousands of families the endless benefits of coming together and having fun with food all while juggling school and building her own mini empire. There's no telling what will come next.

Update 10/11/2016: Kid Chef Eliana was recently named the Food Network's 2016 Chopped Teen Champion, winning $25,000. Another dream of hers come true.

Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

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The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

This article originally appeared on 11.21.16


Photographer Katie Joy Crawford had been battling anxiety for 10 years when she decided to face it straight on by turning the camera lens on herself.

In 2015, Upworthy shared Crawford's self-portraits and our readers responded with tons of empathy. One person said, "What a wonderful way to express what words cannot." Another reader added, "I think she hit the nail right on the head. It's like a constant battle with yourself. I often feel my emotions battling each other."

So we wanted to go back and talk to the photographer directly about this soul-baring project.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."