Kids Should Eat Furikake and Other Wisdom from Alain Ducasse

A multi-Michelin-starred French chef and father of three, Alain Ducasse, shares his focus on vegetables and why he introduces his kids to truffles and other unusual foods.
Alain Ducasse

In his recently published cookbook — Alain Ducasse Cooking for Kids: From Babies to Toddlers: Simple, Healthy, and Natural Food (Rizzoli; $25) — the multi-Michelin-starred French chef and father of three shares his vegetable-heavy recipes along with his persuasive food philosophy on why our kids should be eating healthier.

Why make a cookbook with recipes for infants and toddlers?

I’m hoping that these recipes will help parents steer their kids towards healthy and natural foods from a very young age.

How does having three kids of your own change your perspective on how parents should feed their children?

You become that much more aware of international issues such as child obesity that have long been completely overlooked.

What is the key to getting kids to eat healthier?

Children follow the way their parents eat, so if parents eat steamed fish and vegetables, they will too.

Can we really train taste buds?

What matters to me (and my kids) are genuine locally sourced ingredients that are in season. If you start at the beginning, the essential point where the tastes are real, then in time, you allow your child a voice.

Why more vegetables and less meat?

I have developed a keen culinary interest, both personally and professionally speaking, in what I like to call the trilogy: fish, vegetables and cereal. You can delight in a world of new flavors when you elevate these humble products. It is our duty as cooks (at home or at the restaurant) to adopt a responsible behavior, in harmony with nature, a more wholesome approach, and in an effort to preserve the fragile balance of our planet.

The idea of a savory muffin may not be new, but how did squid make its way into a muffin?

Kids are kids; the point is to hide both the look and texture without sacrificing the nutrition and a palate-maturing opportunity.

In your recipe for Macaroni, Ham, and Truffle, why introduce something as decadent as truffle at 12 months?

It’s a little like traveling. It’s an adventure, taking their taste buds somewhere they’ve never been before!

What's the most-unusual food your kids will eat?

My eldest enjoys sprinkling furikake (a lightly salted Japanese condiment) seasoning over rice. I bring back various kinds from Japan, like seaweed and salmon flakes.

If parents take away one piece of advice from your cookbook, what should it be?

You can’t cook well without good ingredients. Gardeners, stockbreeders, fisherman, foragers and more[NA1]  supply us with all these wonderful products, without which we cooks wouldn’t amount to much.

Does what we feed our kids today have an impact on the future?

I was brought up on a farm, eating the produce of the farm and garden three times a day. It formed my eating habits and my sense of taste, so I know exercising “naturalness” from the very beginning can last a lifetime.

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