By Christy Hobart
When I heard about Fanae Aaron's "What Chefs Feed Their Kids: Recipes and Techniques for Cultivating a Love of Good Food" (Globe Pequot Press, 2011), I was eager to get reading. I was curious to know what chefs cook at home and thought I might find some tips and a plan for helping my finicky 9-year-old expand her culinary repertoire.
- What's the critical kid-to-kitchen connection?
- What makes food sizzle for kids?
- School lunch demystified: Yes, it's a sweet suggestion.
What labels do parents still need if food is to be safe for everyone?
'Sugar Baby' author Gesine Bullock-Prado's advice on doing desserts right.
Turns out, chefs are a lot like the rest of us. Some are fine with their kids grazing throughout the day; and some even play the "airplane game" to get little ones to open their mouths for a bite of food.
Creating healthy meals is a common thread throughout the book, which is broken down in chapters according to age, from infancy to adolescence, defined here as ages 8 to 11. You won't find vegetables snuck into recipes for pasta sauces or mashed potatoes, though. Aaron shares recipes for dishes ranging from fresh pea and spinach puree for babies to whole-grain sesame scallion pancakes with tofu for toddlers to Goan shrimp curry for older kids. The photographs, taken by Viktor Budnik, make it all look delicious.
Chefs, we learn, create meals for their children with "good" and "real" ingredients. A chef in Los Angeles who packed peanut butter and jelly sandwiches every day for his son's lunch said it was OK because he used "good" peanut butter and "good" jelly.
I've done many of the things recommended in "What Chefs Feed Their Kids," and I still have a picky eater. While my daughter may balk at some of the book's recipes, many sound good to me. If they meet resistance, I can always employ another of Aaron's tips: "Step away from it for a few days, and then maybe bring it back and try again later."
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Ask the chef: How do you get your kids to each vegetables?
Josiah Citrin, chef and co-owner of Mélisse in Santa Monica, Calif.: Citrin's wife limits after-school snacks and then will steam broccoli for their children before dinner. "We always start them off with the vegetables before as an appetizer, so they eat them when they're hungry," Citrin says.
Linton Hopkins, chef-owner of Restaurant Eugene and Holeman and Finch Public House in Atlanta: "Before you get seconds in anything, you have . . . to eat that first plate completely. Also, you can't leave the table until you've tried at least two bites of everything."
Top photo composite: Fanae Aaron. Credit: Flint Ellsworth. Book jacket photo courtesy of Globe Pequot
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Also fresh from Zester Daily, chefs have their say:
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- Where was the honeymoon meal that Chef Michael Scelfo won't forget?
Which Latin-Asian dishes were inspired by Chef Richard Sandoval's grandmother?
- What famous chef cooked the dinner that inspired Erbaluce Chef Charles Draghi?
What do the chefs for Green Day whip for for the rock stars and their kids?