CHEF DE MIS­SION

Cuisine - - CONTENTS -

They spend all day cook­ing for oth­ers – how do chefs get their kids to eat up their veg­gies? Anna King Sha­hab in­ves­ti­gates

HOW DO YOU EN­COUR­AGE GOOD FOOD HABITS IN CHIL­DREN AND GET DIN­NER ON THE TA­BLE ANNA KING SHA­HAB WITH­OUT TEARS? TALKS TO BUSY CHEFS TO GET THEIR VIEWS.

PAR­ENTS OF YOUNG CHIL­DREN these days face a po­ten­tial guilt trip round ev­ery cor­ner when it comes to meal­times. There’s ad­vice com­ing from ev­ery quar­ter and much of it is con­tra­dic­tory. It be­gins right from birth – breast­milk or for­mula, when to start solids – and on that note, are purees still the done thing or are we sup­posed to feed them like adults from dot? Foods that were ‘good’ just a year ago quickly be­come ‘bad’. Break­fast swings from be­ing the vi­tal meal of the day to sur­plus to re­quire­ments and prefer­ably skipped. Will our off­spring turn into obese zom­bies if screens are al­lowed at the ta­ble? Will forc­ing kids to eat ev­ery­thing on their plates help or hin­der their appreciation of food?

Amid the con­fu­sion, it can be hard to gain the kind of con­fi­dence in our abil­i­ties to nur­ture cu­ri­ous, hearty, healthy ap­petites that only a gen­er­a­tion ago was in­her­ent. Per­haps the great­est piece of knowl­edge we can gain on the fam­ily food jour­ney is that ev­ery­one does things slightly dif­fer­ently, there’s no sim­ple right and wrong. We’re prob­a­bly all united in our goal of rais­ing the next gen­er­a­tion to love, and to truly ap­pre­ci­ate, good food. Even if some days (some might say most, de­pend­ing on ages and stages) meal­times might feel like a straight game of “just eat enough calo­ries to see you through the night, please”, the big pic­ture is one of food be­ing one of life’s great joys.

And who bet­ter to know both the joys and tri­als of feed­ing peo­ple than those who do just that for a crust? We spoke to some of our top chefs and restau­ra­teurs about how they approach meal­times with their young fam­i­lies, and how they’re en­cour­ag­ing culi­nary cu­rios­ity in their chil­dren. They’ve shared what a typ­i­cal meal­time in their home looks like, what might be on the menu and some sim­ple recipe ideas that go down well with their off­spring. They’re all nor­mal peo­ple, peo­ple who’ve had pureed pump­kin thrown at them, who’ve combed hard­set Weet­bix out of wispy hair, who’ve given an in­ner whoop of de­light when their child learns to love some­thing new. The les­son they share with us here is that with a bit of de­ter­mi­na­tion, a sense of do­ing what feels right and a hit list of sim­ple, de­li­cious ideas up one’s sleeve, meal­times can be the stuff great mem­o­ries are made of.

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