September 30, 2013

Step2 Lil' Chef's Gourmet Kitchen - The Perfect Play Kitchen

As you know, I am a Step2 Test Drive Blogger. I was sent this Step2 Li'l Chef's Gourmet Kitchen (which is a great play kitchen) to review and share my thoughts with you.  No other compensation was provided.

There are so many reasons to have a toy kitchen in your home whether you have a little girl or a little boy.  Imaginary play is not only so important to child development, it's also fun to watch!  In all honesty, I've noticed that our visiting male friends tend to gravitate toward our play kitchen even more than the girls.  I love that the Step2 Lil Chef's Gourment Kitchen is full of features I oohed and aahed about as a parent but doesn't come off as girly...unless you get the pink version.  But then clearly girly is what you're going for!

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For starters, I'm a huge fan of the prominent big, red recycling bin.  Learning to sort and recycle from the beginning is a great habit and it opens up the discussion of why they are recycling, what effect that has on their community and what the things they recycle will become.  Before I gave Kayla the kitchen I filled it up with some little water bottles that we use for field trips. It was the perfect move and she loved the "real life" bonus.

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Probably the most fun feature of the Lil' Chef's Gourmet Kitchen is the sound effects.  We have had both styles of toy kitchen's before - sound enhanced and not.  While I tend to be a parent that believes more in the "the less the toy does the more your child does" theory I think there are exceptions to the rule.  I think the sounds up the fun factor without diminishing Kayla's creativity.

On this kitchen the burner recognizes the object being placed on it and bubbles if it's a pot or kettle and sizzles if it's a pan. Certainly not new technology but I wish a thousand times over I had captured the look on Kayla's face when it started making noise for the first time.  Sheer joy.

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My personal favorite feature is the very modern coffee maker.  Yes, this one runs on little K-Cup style pods.  Which are freaking adorable.  My child made me a latte this morning before school so basically one of my parenting goals is now complete....

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But in all seriousness I love that it includes coffee, tea and hot chocolate.  Or at least that is what I assume they are.  Step2 is smart and doesn't use wording to label them since small children generally speaking can't read.  Plus I like how they are free to make their own assumptions.  I am sure there is at least one child out there making their parents "football coffee" right now.

The Lil' Chef's Gourmet Kitchen comes with a slew of accessories, most of which I really like.  I adore this little collander.  It's so cute and realistic.  What I didn't love was the plastic play food included in the box.  I always see that stuff as a "bonus" I just won't use.  The truth is, I have spent a lot of time hunting down really nice (mostly European) wood play food for Kayla.

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So if you're a picky parent like me, then I recommend donating the included food and picking up a few cute sets like these:

Fruits and veggies: Plan Toys Fruits and Vegetables
Pasta: Hape Pasta Set or Plan Toys Spaghetti Play Set
Salad: Hape Salad Play Set
Beverages:Plan Toys Food and Beverage Set

We have all of these sets in our home and my goodness they have been played with a lot and ogled by visiting children and adults.  What we've never had are fancy pants Williams Sonoma-esque copper utensils for a kitchen.  Quite frankly I'm a bit jealous.  There is even a pasta ladle, but it's not pictured because someone refused to give it back to me, they were so enamored with it.  I won't name names.

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I'd personally like to thank the person over at Step2 who thought to use their brain when crafting the electronic oven panel.  Unlike most of these sort of things, this one makes sounds other than just the standard "beep" for any button you push.  When you push the temperature buttons you get beeps. When you push the timer button you get a satisfying little "tick-tock, tick-tock."  Life altering, no.  But it's refreshing to know someone cared enough to think about it, right?

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Last, but not really last because there are still more cute features I can't even get to or we'd be here all night...I adore these cabinets.  They're frosted.  Because I don't even have frosted cabinets in my kitchen, so clearly my 4 year old should in hers.  Seriously, they are incredibly realistic and inside there are even little spots to hold the blue plates that come with the kitchen.  Maybe one day for me.  When Jeff Lewis knocks on my door and renovates this whole place.  Okay, now I might be dreaming.

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What I should tell you is that there are some decals included which I chose not to use on our kitchen.  I don't know, call me extra picky or a control freak but Step2 did create some backsplash style tile decals and a few to go above those coffee pods that I omitted.  They were cute, but just not really my style.  Which is one thing I love about putting on the decals yourself - you get some freedom of choice as to how much stuff you want to slap on there or where you would rather keep things more plain.

If you think this kitchen is for you (and there is pretty good chance you might think that) then you should know that the Step2 Lil' Chef's Gourmet Kitchen is a Toys R Us exclusive, so you won't find it anywhere else.  It retails for $129.99 which I think is very fair for what you get.  Also, it might be helpful to know that if you choose to pick it up yourself in the store, it's cleverly packed so that the box should fit in a mid-full size SUV.


Of course if you have any questions about the Lil Chef's Gourmet Kitchen feel free to ask away!  Until then, here's a video of Kayla hard at work.

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