of the most challenging things about being a chef/father is
realizing that you have limited influence over what your children
eat. Restaurant's working hours keep most chefs away from
their families during the crucial eating times of lunch and
dinner. After all, breakfast is all about fruit and cereal
or grains, not much of an influential culinary opportunity
there. As a result, many chefs' children fall victim to the
eating habits of their peers. McDonald's, Burger King and
Friendly's become the norm, causing children to cringe at
the thought of a beautifully roasted sweet pepper.
I've found good success in approaching my children from flavor
angles they are comfortable with. Adding pickled ginger juice
and ketchap manis to regular ketchup (something in which they
can dip their fries) makes for a mild taste change while peaking
their interest about the ginger and manis. Taking them on
a journey also helps. Finding back-up materials on regional
foods is a no-brainer given the plethora of cookbooks available.
Speak about the region, show some pictures, and they're on
an imaginary airplane to a far away place! Eventually, childhood
curiosity gets the best of them and they actually taste the
raw ingredients. Like a small miracle, you come home one day
to find them dipping their fries in ketchap manis. Getting
the children involved in making the recipes is the real hook.
When they take ownership of the process, all is won!
cup of your kid's favorite ketchup
Tablespoons ketchap manis (sweet soy)
to 2 Tablespoons pickled ginger juice
1 Tablespoon pickled ginger finely chopped with 1 Tablespoon
of lime or lemon zest
the ingredients in a small mixing bowl and blend well. Refrigerate
for one hour, bake or buy some fries and take a journey to
When Cooking With Kids:
1) Cut new things into the smallest pieces possible. This
will tone-down the initial flavor impact of the new ingredient.
2) Do not force or even encourage a child to taste the raw
product first. The reasoning behind this approach is to temper
the tastebuds by introducing flavors gradually through mediums
that their palates already understand. There is a thin line
between encouragement and prodding. Test them on the raw ingredients
only when they are ready.
3) Have lots of fun. Be very up beat and play on the journey.
There is a reason why children generally do better in geography
than math. World travel and great chefs go hand in hand. Come
to think of it, I don't believe I know any mathematician/chefs.