"The only real stumbling block is the fear of failure. In cooking, you have got to have a what-the-hell attitude." ~ Julia Child

Into the mouths of babes…

by Julie Tilsner on May 14, 2009

in Adventures in Parenting

Jackmouth There’s an interesting article over at Babble, a sort of Daily Beast for the new parent set. The writer asked five top chefs what they feed their kids at home. Great premise, I thought.

But the content didn’t live up to the promise. Three of the top chefs interviewed have children aged 2 or under. Children under two are never picky. They will eat anything you put in front of them. It’s not until they hit 3 that they suddenly and without explanation stop eating anything with herbs in it, anything with distinctive taste, or anything that is not the color white.

This is almost universal (well, in developed countries, I mean. There really is a kid in Afghanistan who would weep over your kid’s untouched bowl of soup.). I say this as a mom of two myself, and as someone who spent four years in a child observation unit (otherwise known as graduate student family housing). At two they’re gourmands. At three they’re Vegan.

One chef interviewed had one child, a 1-year-old. Why? A one-year-old will happily try cat kibble and eat dead bugs out of the windowsill if you let them. Yes, they’ll eat your organic puree too. But picky they’re not.

I would have liked to see a chef with older kids, grade school and a little above. Now that’s a picky, stubborn and vocal group. I might have asked the guys at GastroKid what they think, since they both cook and have a book coming out about feeding kids creatively.

The other chefs had 4-and-5 year-olds. And although they admitted they were a little picky and they couldn’t explain why, neither did they offer any actual meals that worked for them. The final chef had two grown daughters, who hardly count, because they’re no longer kids, and nobody can be counted upon to remember the gastronomic quirks of their progeny 23 years earlier.

Now I’d like to see a piece on what chef’s really feed their kids at home. Dirty little secrets of top chefs’ home life with kids. Breakfast cereal? Chicken McNuggets? gasp! Kraft Mac and Cheese? No! the horror.

Vote for your favorite and let me know.


{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Linda McGivern May 15, 2009 at 6:15 am

Okay, so I’m not a “top chef”, but I like to think I have a modicum of skill in the nutrition/cooking department. Still, I cast my vote for Pop Tarts and Lucky Charms. We seem to fall down in the breakfast department…


Mic May 15, 2009 at 8:59 am

my kid tries food, eats well and varied. And has been fed home-made mac and cheese from the getgo. Her new favorite food in the world?
Kraft Mac N Cheese (the original one, made from the powder). Go figure.


Cat May 22, 2009 at 8:17 pm

I totally agree with your post – I find the “my child will eat anything” stories so annoying. Similar to you, my kids became a lot pickier when they turned 3 – and then over time, gradually expanded their horizons. I read that becoming a picky eater at 3 was a built in survival mechanism back in the days when humans were foraging for food (to prevent kids who were too little to know better from finding and eating poisonous foods).


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