Tasteful Tips When Cooking for Kids

For chef Jacques Pepin, getting grandchildren to try new things is key

By Ramin Ganeshram

1. Teach children respect for food, says Chef Jacques Pépin. By showing them food in the garden or on a farm and even showing them farm animals, they will have a greater sense of the effort and value that goes into a dish.

2. Just because something is a "luxury" product doesn't mean a child shouldn't have it, says Jacques's daughter, Claudine Pépin. "We try as parents and grandparents to expose our kids to the best art, music, travel, or clothes, despite the cost. Why should food be any different?"

3. Don’t give children too much food, says the older Pépin. It becomes overwhelming, particularly when trying new things.

4. Don't be too accommodating, he adds. "I think the biggest mistake is to keep on giving choices to a kid who won't try something new. It tells them they don't have to make the effort to try and accept new things."

5. Make a game with children of identifying tastes or smells. "When Shourey asks me what's cooking because it smells good," says Claudine, "I say to her, 'You tell me." It makes her think about how smell correlates to food, which is an important part of developing the palate.”

6. Encourage grandchildren to be in the kitchen while you are cooking. Even if they are not participating — though even the smallest child can help season food with a salt or pepper shaker — it acclimates them to the smells and look of different foods.

Read more about Jacques Pépin in Kitchen Lessons.

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