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Father knows Best!
Chefs "dish" on the best lunchtime meal they had as a child
"Like father, like son," the following chefs have learned their favorite tried-and-true dishes as youngsters from their fathers and other family members who were skilled with a whisk or spatula. Today, these chefs carry on the tradition by making these beloved lunchtime meals for their own children.
Chip Flanagan, Executive Chef, Ralph's on the Park [New Orleans, LA]
"When I was young, the quiet of early morning was bonding time for me and my dad - and today, it's the same for me and my son. He loves breakfast any time of day, so chances are you'll find him sitting on the counter next to dear-old-dad as my sous chef, making Breakfast Burritos with scrambled eggs, cheese, and black beans with a little guacamole on the side. Naturally, he loves guacamole, but won't eat a sliced avocado...it has to be mashed!"
Brett Gauthier, Executive Pastry Chef, Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group [New Orleans, LA]
"My parents were a great influence in shaping my love for the kitchen, and luckily for them, I was open to tasting just about anything off that wooden spoon on the stove. The apple fell pretty far from the tree in the next generation, because as luck has it, my five-year-old daughter isn't just a picky eater - she just plain lacks an interest in eating anything! But being her chef-father, I have a couple of tricks up my sleeve to get her to ask for second helpings, one being to ‘make it mini!' with little Mini Hamburgers, Mini Grilled Cheeses, and Personal Pizzas."
David Guas, Chef & Owner, Bayou Bakery, Coffee Bar & Eatery [Arlington, VA]
"Growing up, my go-to snack was inspired by my Aunt Boo's "Dirty Diaper" sandwich which was one piece of white Bunny Bread, folded over with a layer of leftover gravy that came from the cooked ground beef and sausage for her Dirty Rice. My mother, her sister-in-law, stole the idea of the Diaper Sandwich and folded in more kid-palatable ingredients: peanut butter and honey. My mom's version is a staple pick-me-up in my household before baseball games, afterschool snacks or weekend breakfast."
Alfredo Solis, Chef, Fuego Cocina y Tequileria [Arlington, VA]
"Growing up in Mexico City, one of the first dishes I learned to make at home with my mother was Quesadillas de Pollo [Chicken Quesadillas.] This is now my daughter's favorite dish and one that she requests just about every chance she gets. Even though she's only five, she's already picked up my love of spicy food. No sour cream for her - she's all about hot sauce!"
Tucker Yoder, Executive Chef, Clifton Inn [Charlottesville, VA]
"With four little ones running around, it's not often one kid wants the same lunch as the others. Quesadillas with homemade tortillas and a variety of fillings like cheeses, meats and veggies are perfect because they are easy to customize to everyone's likes and dislikes - and I don't feel like a short order cook."
Brian McBride, Executive Chef, Brasserie Beck [Washington, DC]
"My favorite lunch to make with my daughters is a classic Ploughman's Lunch - a U.K. pub staple traditionally served with beer. Growing up, my dad and I would share the plate of food but only he got to enjoy the beer! Nowadays, my daughters and I carry on the tradition. They pull all the ingredients together, like various fresh cheeses, chutney, bread, boiled eggs, and sliced meats. You serve it cold and just nosh."
Michael Scaffidi, Advanced Sommelier, Plume at The Jefferson, DC [Washington, DC]
"I remember being knee-high and waking up to the smell of Pancakes griddling down in the kitchen. I always loved that they could take on different shapes, and now, my four-year-old daughter and I make her favorite Star Wars characters -- usually Darth Vader. My accompanying beverage of choice is Champagne, and she loves milk, so we practice our toasts together."
Paul Stearman, Chef de Cuisine, Marcel's [Washington, DC]
"My 10- and 11-year-old daughters and I like to make a lunchtime classic that practically fueled me growing up - Ramen Noodles. This Stearman family favorite is simple enough that they can just about make it themselves. We revamp it by adding fresh veggies like chopped carrots, celery, onions, grilled shrimp and herbs. Rather than using the seasoning pack, we flavor with a touch of soy sauce, sesame oil and chili flakes. Hopefully, this healthy Ramen recipe will serve them well when they're in college!"
Andrew Evans, Chef & Owner, The BBQ Joint [Easton, MD]
"Growing up, my mom was all about healthy, garden-fresh food. Making a big pot of spaghetti and throwing in a ton of veggies and whatever else we had from the market was a tradition in her kitchen. Now that I'm the one with the kitchen, I've carried this ritual on with my two daughters, but this time we use Spaghetti Squash since I'm trying to avoid carbs! My daughters help by chopping Garlic, and heating the sauce while I grill up the Shrimp. We toss it with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, add a bit of Tomato Sauce and Voilà -- it's lunchtime!