A few excerpts from my interview with Fanae Aaron, lifelong foodie and author of the new book, “What Chefs Feed Their Kids, Recipes, and Techniques for Cultivating a Love of Good Food”. I am doing a giveaway on this book till November 14th Enter it here–
Tell me more about how this journey started?
From the very beginning, I found myself in unfamiliar territory. I didn’t know how to get Cody (her now 6 year old son) to eat. He was interested in playing with the food more than eating it. I wasn’t sure if it is okay to play with food? Should I be giving him the same thing or more like how often should I be giving him the same thing? I know parenting overall is about getting off to a good start and I thought food should be the same way too. More importantly I wanted to have a relationship with my son over food.
Do these chefs also struggle with what to feed their children?
Children are children, they are growing, they are developing, their palate is changing, their food is changing all the time. Chefs are flexible and they realize that their kid liked something last week but not now. They stack their kitchen with healthy foods and vegetables and change it based on their kid’s preferences at the time.
Any trends or patterns you saw in terms of how chefs feed their kids?
Every meal is a new adventure, they [chefs] pass that enthusiasm onto feeding their kids. It happens a number of different ways. It’s about how you engage with food, how you get your kid to eat new food.
No chef talks about bribing to eat food. For them to get their kids engaged with food is about the stories of food. If that doesn’t work they talk off topic to distract and then get the kid to eat. For them food is not disgusting if a child calls something disgusting then it about using words to describe the food and not calling something yucky.
It’s about keeping the kids close to them when they are cooking the family meal. The study table is in/near the kitchen. As they are adding herbs and spices while Johnny is coloring or doing homework they can talk about what they are doing with the food and the aromas etc.
How did you get your son to be a mini foodie? Anything you are struggling with in terms of food and diet with your kid right now?
We did all of the things from the book. I have been working on this book since my son started eating solids. As things were coming up for me, I would ask the chef, this book really is – the roadmap that we used ourselves. People think that chefs are always cooking all these fancy foods but I was a rudimentary cook when I started, and I have learnt to cook through Cody.
The most important is not to get your child to eat one particular food but to acclimatize them to eat broadly. The best way to build a child’s palate is by constantly rotating spices, rotating produce with season. Rotating by season is the right way of pacing things in your cooking.
How do you pack your son’s school lunches?
As kids starts becoming older, it becomes important for them to belong hence you want to empower your kids, why do you eat these things. I think I see you growing. I don’t give him food that other kids might think are weird, I don’t pack any brand new food in his lunch box. I tell him what I am packing in this lunch so there are no surprises.
One thing you want me to walk away with?
I like this quote by Laurie Colwin – “When people enter their kitchen, they often drag their childhood with them”. They pass on their own sense of pleasure and enthusiasm .
Want to learn more – you can buy the book at What Chefs Feed Their Kids: Recipes and Techniques for Cultivating a Love of Good Food at Amazon and Barnes and Noble or you can participate in the giveaway I am doing right now.
Update: This giveaway is now closed. A winner(Manisha Aswani) has been selected using random.org