Cooking With the kids - Fathers Day Feature on StarChefs.com
  Cookin’ and Grillin’ with the Kids

by Amanda McDougall
June 2008

Put together Father’s Day, chef dads, a grill, and some time off with the kids and you get a recipe for a great day… unless you drop a hot grill in the pool (keep reading).

Romeo Bourgault, Besh Steak, New Orleans
Recipe: Grilled Berkshire Pork Chop with Corn and Crab “Risotto”
Kids: Jordan, 3, and Kaitlyn, almost 1

Do you cook with your kids?
Romeo Bourgault, Besh Steak, New Orleans on StarChefs.comAbsolutely. Jordan does most of the cooking, ever since she was 18 months she’s been cooking her scrambled eggs – always under supervision! We think it’s really important that they know how to cook for themselves at a very young age, just in case something were to happen. We mostly cook eggs and bacon and pancakes, breakfast stuff because I’m not around for lunch or dinner.

What’s their favorite dish?
Jordan’s favorite dish is poached eggs on toast – “man on a boat” – and pancakes; for lunch it’s a cold hotdog – I don’t where they picked up that from.

What was your favorite dish when you were a kid?
Grilled cheese with a dill pickle. Mom always changed up the cheese on us. For the most part my mom was a horrible cook, so she stuck with cold cuts and sandwiches.

What will you be doing for Father’s Day?
In the past I’ve worked and I’ll be doing the same thing this year. The best is spending time together with my family, but it doesn’t happen too much. My wife is in the business too.

What do you throw on the grill in the summer?
Whole roasted pig, and I use natural oak and pecan wood. We’ll get up at about 4:30 in the morning [to start cooking it]. I built myself a pit with cinderblocks and rebar. My dad is a welder and he helped me out. The key to that is getting a feel for hot and cold spots and moving the pig up and down.

Grill tips?
I start off with regular charcoal but use wood charcoal as well. I move the charcoal over the edges to create a circle and then put the wood in the middle. You just need a few briquettes. People usually use too much.

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Thomas Wolfe, Peristyle and Wolfe’s in the Warehouse, New Orleans
Kids: Madison, 5, and Megan, 14 months

Do you cook with your kids?
chef_thomas_wolfeI do with Madison. On Saturdays it’s pancakes and biscuits day! We do everything from scratch. She gets to sift the flour and put everything together, and put it on the griddle. We also do barbecue – it doesn’t matter how garish it is, Madison will put her hands in it. She will have her hands in sausage, steaks, fish, anything. We pull her little chair up by the grill and she calls herself daddy’s sous chef. She can work the tongs and pull things off the grill; she does the pepper mill – she’s a kick, a character.

What they love to eat:
They will try anything. Megan is an eater – you can tell she’s definitely a Wolfe! Madison calls her the billy goat-monkey because she is at a stage where she’ll put anything in her mouth and climb anywhere. Madison loves every type of steak – lamb, t-bone, chops. She loves to marinate and cook steak. And putting basil on the tomatoes and eating that. Pretty much whatever dad says is okay. Even if she doesn’t like it, she’ll eat it because I’m eating it.

Madison and I planted a garden and trees – Satsuma and Pakistani lime trees. In the garden, we have three types of basil, dill, parsley, fennel, bell pepper, jalapenos, tomato bushes; we’ll make a salad with it. She loves the cooking thing, which scares the hell out of me.

Your favorite thing to eat as a kid:
I grew up in a family that really cooked – we never went out to eat. My Grandmother’s stewed chicken was outstanding; my mother’s tacos were awesome. She would do daube-style shoulder roast – freakin’ unbelievable.  We’d have butter bars for dessert. My mother also used to do French-cut green beans in a casserole that was all vegetarian with parmesan cheese, bread crumbs, and drizzled with olive oil – real simple and straightforward stuff.

My dad loved to cook as well – we were fortunate for that. In crawfish season we would have family gatherings, with friends and their families, at someone’s house and have shrimp, crawfish, crab and oyster feasts. And I mean feasts. The dads would do that – each would do one [of the items] and bring it. You had your cocktail sauce competition, a boiling competition….  

What are you grilling now?
Summer brings a lot of fish in, so you see a lot more escolar, grouper, amber jack, trout, and tuna – the tuna is pretty magnificent right now in the Gulf. Trout is fun. I like to throw the whole trout on the grill and meats and homemade sausages, of course. The gulf oysters are great. They have been rinsed by some of the tides now so they aren’t milky like they are in [other] months. They’ve been really fantastic in the summers – throwing those on the grill is really awesome. I like to shuck them and throw them on, unless they are fat and small – then you can just throw them on the grill and they will pop open. I also like to marinade a whole butt-load of the New Zealand lamb racks and cut single chops from them. Just pop them on the grill and eat them right off of it.  

Grill tips:
- Be sure that the grill is extremely hot when starting your meats, especially if they are thick; once the meat is seared, then you can turn the temperature down. And if you have a big grill you can have a hot and cold side.
- Oil the grill and lightly oil the food – just a touch to make sure your seasonings adhere.
- I like to clean the grill every time I turn it on instead of when I turn it off. It seems to preserve it better. If you leave the food on it, I’ve noticed that the next time you open your grill – it will be dirty with particles – but no rust. So, I crank it up and shut it, then get the grill brush on it, clean it with a rag with oil, and shut it again.

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Kendal Duque, Sepia, Chicago
Recipe: Charred Baby Octopus with Grilled Bread and Tomato Sauce
Kids: Claire, 4, and Francesca, 3

What do you cook with your kids?
Kendal Duque, Sepia, Chicago on StarChefs.comThey LOVE to cook – they cook like the rat in the movie Ratatouille (that we watch all the time). We make breakfast on weekends so they’ll make the eggs – cracking the eggs, whipping the eggs. Every time I’m at the stove they pull the chairs up and help stir. Francesca is really good at seasoning. I make her season all the meat and fish. She’s very thorough – she’s sure to get every bit covered. We make fresh pasta – they’ll help me roll it out and cut it. They like using their hands.

What they love to eat:
They love pork, which is right up my alley. We do pork chops, and they love bacon.

Your favorite thing to eat as a kid:
When I was a kid growing up in Quito, Ecuador we’d stew pork in its own fat, like carnitas. It’s the way I make my rillettes [at the restaurant]. We’d make roasted suckling pig with all the accoutrements: potato pancakes w/ a mashed potato base, peanut sauce with boiled potatoes.

Summer Grilling:
I love grilling. We grill everything – veggies, fish, steak, pork chops, sausages.

Grill tips:
- We marinate a lot of meat. We do it chimichurri style, as a marinade with fish – olive oil, lemon juice, zest, thyme, rosemary, parsley, cilantro, and chopped garlic…lots of chopped garlic.
- Beer can chicken: you drink half a can and then stick the chicken on the other half. Cover the grill and let it go.
- Always use charcoal. We have a Weber that’s charcoal only, and when I’m in a hurry I use a Weber that’s charcoal with a gas lighter, so you don’t have to do the chimney thing – it lights up in like 10 minutes.

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Cathal Armstrong, Restaurant Eve, Alexandria, VA
Kids: Eve, 9, and Eamonn, 6

Do you cook with your kids?
Cathal Armstrong, Restaurant Eve, Alexandria, VA on StarChefs.comYes – for Christmas this year they both asked for chef uniforms! They fight over who gets to do what. I really encourage them to get involved in the kitchen – not really to become chefs, but to interact with food and be in the kitchen. It’s really important, and if they cook it themselves they’re more likely to eat it. Their interaction in the kitchen has helped with what they’ll eat. We grow stuff too, and that helps. Last year we planted apple trees, and we have cabernet sauvignon grapes, raspberries, gooseberries, basil, thyme, bay leave, rosemary, lime beans, yellow beans, jalapeńos, Brussels sprouts, and artichokes.

We grow a lot because I grow stuff for the restaurant too. And we got the kids into composting this year – teaching them to be environmentally responsible is important. My son asked for frogs, but I got worms for composting instead. Eamonn really likes the worms.

What’s their favorite dish?
At this time of year we’re in the garden and grilling as much as possible. The kids love ribs and I prepare them in a really simple way where I season them heavily, grill them, and near the end – when the kids want to put their finger on them to taste them – I put a pesto of rosemary, thyme, garlic and olive oil raw on the hot ribs and take them off the grill. The heat from ribs cooks the garlic.

I’ve never had a problem with the kids eating green things, which is a typical problem with children. Especially with rosemary and basil because I can just tell them it’s the same thing we have in the garden and that I put on the ribs. We’ll also do chicken really simply with lemon, rosemary, and olive oil, and sausages with crusty bread and mustard.

What was your favorite dish when you were a kid?
When I was a young kid my father was a travel agent for package holidays. His business associates would take us to outdoor barbeques – there’s something about eating outdoors. I guess it’s more a fond food memory. And paella was always a favorite.

What will you be doing for this Father’s Day?
We will be in San Sebastian. I am going on a cruise to Monte Carlo where I will be doing a cooking class. But Father’s Day traditionally is a barbeque like everyone else. We have a pool in the backyard – swimming, cooking, and eating all day.

Last year I almost dropped the grill in the swimming pool! I decided that we should eat by the pool, so I was moving the grill over and right at the corner where I had to get close to the edge of the pool, it almost went right in! Yes, it was already hot.

Grill tips?
- The most important thing with grilling is to make sure it’s hot before you get started.
- The most important tool to have is a kitchen towel doused in cooking oil – right before you put your food on the grill, especially if you have fish or something like that, wipe the grill with the oily towel to make sure the food won’t stick. But a hot grill is the most important thing.

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Morou Ouattara, Farrah Olivia, Alexandria, VA
Kids: Farrah, 4 in July, and Kora, 2

Do you cook with your kids?
Morou Ouattara, Farrah Olivia, Alexandria, VA on StarChefs.comThey are a little too young for that right now. They are too short for the stools and to reach anything. But Farrah likes to season. I always try to introduce new things to them, but it’s difficult.

What’s their favorite dish?
They really like spaghetti because they like to play with it, and pizza is their favorite. They prefer Papa John’s or they like California Pizza Kitchen’s barbeque chicken. When you have two kids – and mine are two years apart – it’s different because one might not be able to eat what the other one can, and one is allergic to peanuts. Actually, it’s almost like a restaurant where you have to please different people at the same time.

What was your favorite dish when you were a kid?
Well, in Africa it’s different – I’m not sure that there is food for babies. I’ve always loved soft bread and eating the center of a loaf – even today I do that. My mother told me that my father would go around and ask for people to give me the soft part of their bread.

My mother would make flour porridge with a bit of ginger and honey or sugar. She puts flour in a bowl with cold water while tapping on the bowl; as the water rolls around it makes little balls; you scoop out the balls, dry them, and then boil them with a bit more flour. Add ginger, sugar, honey – that’s what we ate as kids. I did a little bit of this for Iron Chef when I did the show. It’s a very interesting process that I liked as a kid.

What will you be doing for Father’s Day?
The restaurant is open, of course, so we will do a barbeque after brunch. I was planning on doing sweet corn from Maryland, and cured quail with cinnamon, paprika, and sweet chilies. The kids will like it – to see daddy with a little bird. They like grilled potatoes with a lot of seasoning – smoked paprika, a bit of sugar and salt. We’ll do chicken wings for the kids.

We love grilling – we grew up on lamb because that was the easiest thing to get [in Africa]. I do lamb leg smeared with tandoori spices– orange juice, yucca paste, chili, coriander, cinnamon, paprika, a touch of curry powder, sugar and salt; mix to get a paste, smear on lamb (it will be nice and red), and cure for 24 hours. Then you put it on a slow grill. I like to make things an attractive red color to get the kids to eat it. Sometimes you have to play tricks.

Grill tips?
- Don’t put too much oil on the item because the grill will smoke and the food will get a carbon taste. I hate that smoke and the carbon taste.
- Have two different levels of heat on the grill, low and hot, because you always have different things that require different temperatures.
- Don’t be afraid to use a lot of seasoning. Most of the time all the spices will fall off as you move things on the grill, so don’t be afraid to season a lot. You can almost never over-salt or over-season meat for the grill because so much falls off into the grill. You can over-salt sauce, but you can’t meat on the grill. 

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Chef Dads
- Romeo Bourgault
Besh Steak, New Orleans

- Thomas Wolfe
Peristyle and Wolfe’s in the Warehouse, New Orleans

- Kendal Duque
Sepia, Chicago

- Cathal Armstrong

Restaurant Eve, Alexandria, VA

- Morou Ouattara
Farrah Olivia, Alexandria, VA


   Published: June 2008