Chefs' Picks: Where to Take the Kids
Wouldn’t it be great to be the son or daughter of a chef? You’d be exposed to the most delicious and exciting foods, right? Well, yes and no. In many cases, kids will be kids, and even the most-celebrated chefs have to deal with picky eaters. We spoke to chefs about their kids’ favorite foods and where they take their kids out to eat.
Chef Brad Farmerie’s kids (Bruno, 7, and Scarlet, 5), enjoy some of their father’s restaurants — Saxon + Parole for cheeseburgers and fries, and Nutella- and bacon-stuffed French toast; and Genuine Superette for fried chicken sandwiches and their ice cream sandwich, Sam Mason’s OddFellows ice cream stuffed in a toasted brioche. But they won’t touch the food at Public, where Farmerie serves an acclaimed menu of American-Australian fare, dishes like kangaroo carpaccio with eggplant capanatina, fennel and upland cress. “Unfortunately, as soon as they learned the power of the word 'no,' they both became finicky eaters,” says Farmerie. “Their ongoing menu consists of 'earth tones' — whites and light brown items — with very few exceptions. Breaks my heart, but I figure if I don’t push it now (don’t want to give them a complex) hopefully they will come around when they are a bit older. I know I did!”
Farmerie says the key to taking kids out to dinner is patience and expectations: “I think if you are too set on how the experience is going to go, you are in big trouble. I also tend to gravitate towards spots with plenty of space between the tables so if the kids are fidgety they won’t be disturbing other guests.”
Jason Neroni, chef at Catch and Release in Los Angeles, explains that his kids — Atticus, 6, and Penny, 2 — are “well-versed in the culinary arts.” “Atticus can make gnocchi all by himself. Penny, she is a little more of a novice, but she tries to get her hands dirty and loves to stir the pot, in more ways than one.” Given their father’s dedication to local everything, his kids are on a first-name basis with all the farmers at the Culver City Green Market, one of his favorite places to take them to graze. “They walk up and down the aisle eating beet hummus, broccoli florets, fresh goat cheese, all the stone fruits,” he says. When it comes to going out, their favorite place is Samosa House http://www.samosahouse.com/. “It’s vegetarian and cheap, and they love the mango lassi.”
Chef Hugh Acheson has a rather full plate (excuse the pun). In addition to running four restaurants in Georgia — 5&10, The National, Empire State South and The Florence — he has written three books and has two kids, Beatrice, 13, and Clementine, 11. His favorite place to take them? Sushi bars. “My kids love sushi, but they really like fancy sushi — they're not cheap dates!” he jokes. “They usually have a full-on dinner: miso soup, edamame, sushi rolls, tofu agedashi, sashimi of toro and salad. They eat it all.” Acheson explains the appeal of sushi to small children: “I think they like to see the action of it being made. The rice base is a solid foundation for kids, and Japanese food and the umami flavors within it really appeal to young palates.”