What One Of the World’s Top Chef Feeds His Child
That’s me, feeling positively starstruck in the presence of Yotam Ottolenghi, one of the most admired chefs in the world at the moment. The Israeli-born, London-based guru of vegetable cookery was in town over the weekend as part of a tour for his latest cookbook, Plenty More (Ten Speed Press, 2014). Guests at the event were treated to a parade of dishes from the book and a peek inside his brilliant head as he opened the room up to questions. To me, the most interesting among them concerned the business of feeding kids.
The father of an almost-two-year-old, Ottolenghi was asked if parenthood has changed the way he eats at home. I was struck by the simplicty of his answer, especially considering how complicated a subject this is for many families. He said simply, “No. Not at all”. He explained that his boy “eats what we eat”, which if you know his cooking, is not exactly chicken nuggets and buttered noodles. He was forthright in admitting that every plate isn’t met with unbridled enthusiasm, but that hasn’t altered his approach to the family meal. He takes a tack of neutrality, doing his best not to nudge, but just to put out the food and leave it be, noting his son eats better without a parent standing over him waiting on every bite.
It’s early days yet for Ottolenghi in his journey as a dad. His child is just a toddler and as every seasoned parent knows, we get thrown curveballs at the table we might never have predicted. But he’s got the right idea, indeed, it’s the kind of advice I would give any new parent on feeding their kids from the get go, which boils down to this:
1. Feed your child what you eat
2. Eat together as much as you can manage
3. Don’t let them see you sweat.
Of course, it’s not always this simple. And we’re not all Ottolenghi. I suppose if I was at the receving end of his glorious cooking day-in-day-out, I’d be inclined to clean my plate, too.