One of the greatest gifts you can give your children is an appreciation of healthy, wholesome foods. Welcoming them into your kitchen is a great way to get them excited for mealtimes, and it might just make them more open to trying new foods and flavors.
Join some of FOOD & WINE’s favorite personalities as they share the kitchen with their children. Get step-by-step instructions for preparing their favorite kid-friendly dishes, and follow their tips for coaxing kids to get cooking.
After all, if meal prep is a family affair, it'll mean less stress for mom and dad—and better nutrition for everyone.
At Michael's Genuine Food & Drink, James Beard Award–winning chef-owner Michael Schwartz shares his passion for where food comes from. His flagship Miami restaurant opened in the Design District in 2007, followed by a sister Michael's Genuine in Grand Cayman in 2010 and Harry's Pizzeria, a low-key neighborhood joint that opened in fall 2011, serving up seasonally inspired pizzas from a wood-burning oven. He recently started bringing locally sourced produce to 150 Central Park by Chef Michael Schwartz aboard Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas, and in 2012, he'll take over food and beverage operations at Miami Beach icon The Raleigh Hotel.
The secret to the good food Michael serves is ... good food. Diners crave the cuisine that he does best: homemade and straightforward with an emphasis on fresh, local ingredients. His menus change daily because they start with what's in season and arriving on the doorstep from nearby farmers, fishermen and ranchers.
Outside of the restaurants, Michael supports the arts and gives back through grass roots projects that nurture sustainable food systems in underprivileged parts of the community and their schools. Michael lives in Miami Beach with his wife, Tamara, and three children, Ella, Lulu and Harry.
- Favorite Kid-Friendly Recipes
- Family Photo Album
- Q & A
How has the way you eat and your attitude about food shaped your child's eating habits?My wife, Tamara, and I are eating healthier than ever these days. She's amazing, so I just try to keep up! We've always kept the kitchen stocked with fresh ingredients and done a lot of cooking at home with the kids. Eating dinner together is important. When I'm not traveling, we eat most of our meals at home — when we're not at one of the restaurants.
How do you encourage your child to eat healthy, balanced meals?Give them options—good options. I think it's super-important for both parents and restaurants not to talk down to kids when it comes to food. I'm tired of seeing books that tell parents to "hide vegetables" and kids menus with a bunch of fried grease that they think kids want to eat. If you present kids with chicken fingers or brownies with "hidden" broccoli, that's what they're going to eat. We try to keep fresh fruits and vegetables in the kitchen. If the junk isn't there to begin with, that's a start.
How do you get children to try foods that might be outside of other children's comfort zones?If you take the time to show kids where food comes from and bring fresh ingredients into your home, your kids will be more to try something new. You don't need to cook elaborate meals from scratch every night at home or offer three-course children's tasting menus in a restaurant. A little goes a long way.
How do you get your children to cook with you? How can other parents make food more enticing than video games?Eating good food has always been a given in my household. But it's not easier to get my kids excited about food just because I'm a chef. I have to work just as hard! We try to make cooking a family activity, which is always more fun. We used to keep 11 hens in our backyard when the kids were little. We had fresh eggs, and they could get their hands dirty. That was enticing!
When you're short on time, what do you pack in your kids' lunches? And what do you serve for dinner?A great big colorful salad is always a go-to for dinner when we're short on time. School lunches are a whole other can of worms! For the past two years I've been active with Miami-Dade Public Schools' food and nutrition department and its Chef's Partnership for that very reason. We adopted Phillis Wheatley Elementary School in Overtown, an underprivileged neighborhood close to Michael's Genuine, and have been planting edible gardens with all sorts of fruits and veggies. There's lots more work to be done in public and private schools. It's crazy what they're still serving.
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.