In honor of Mother’s Day, our series of interviews with famous chefs who are also parents continues, with Gramercy Tavern’s Michael Anthony sharing his exclusive tips with OpenTable diners for raising adventurous eaters who enjoy dining out.
Chef Michael Anthony has his hands full, figuratively and literally. As the executive chef for the award-winning Gramercy Tavern, an advocate of local foods, and an educator for children about where their food comes from, he’s also father to three daughters: a newborn, an 8-year-old, and a soon-to-be 11-year-old. On dining out with kids and getting them to be adventurous eaters, he says, “We’re in the thick of it, as much as any parents. Being a chef doesn’t take away the challenges every parent faces in terms of introducing new foods and dining out.” He advocates making food fun. “Take them to local farmers markets or farms. Play with your food, in terms of presentation. I once served my daughter long beets presented to look like a mouse. She let out an enormous scream, but she ate it!”
“When we take our daughters out, my wife and I talk to them about the experience going into it and the table manners they’ll need that are different than at home.” Once there, he notes how many stimulating things there are to see at a restaurant. “Engage your kids in the restaurant experience. Have them try to guess what each staffer does by uniform – what the jobs of the people in the restaurant are,” he says. You might also ask to if the kids can take a peek into the kitchen.
You might not guess it, but Chef Anthony was a fussy eater as a child – and his kids can be, too. “My eldest daughter has decided that artisanal cheeses are not for her. She likes the kind that comes in individual slices! The little one doesn’t like fish.” He admits, “I have resorted to bribery at times. It is a never-ending battle, but don’t cave in. If my children don’t like a certain dish, I ask them to tell me why. If they can say they don’t like the aroma or the texture, then that’s okay. It’s cool that they’re learning to articulate their preferences.”
His daughters do agree that they enjoy the chilled cucumber soup served at Gramercy Tavern. “It’s a delicious, refreshing soup made with herbs and yogurt. We put a drop of honey in to hide the slight bitterness that offends some people, and my kids love it!”