Going on for nearly two decades, Dining Out for Life is an annual fundraiser during which more than 3,500 restaurants donate a portion of their proceeds from this one special night of dining to the licensed AIDS service agency in their city. Each year, nearly $4 million is raised to help support the mission of these most worthy organizations.
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!”
Mother’s Day is mom’s day off, so it’s no surprise that it’s one of the busiest dining out days of the year. Diners seeking to enjoy a more leisurely dining experience should consider dining at a time other than noon, according to the results of a recent survey of OpenTable diners. The survey revealed that 12PM was the most popular time to dine on Mother’s Day. Diners also told us that almost 50% of moms make their own Mother’s Day reservations. Dads, who are probably busy figuring out what to buy their lovely wives, only do the reserving 31% of the times. Kids reserve, too, but just 15% of the time.
The size of most dining parties is small, with most people spending Mother’s Day at a table for two to four people. However, nearly 44% will dine in a larger group of more than six.
Curious about mixology for moms? Mimosas remain her cocktail of choice (42%), with Champagne coming in at a distant second (19%).
Fame buys a lot of things — but, according to The Frisky, manners may not be one of them. The Frisky’s got a round-up of stars, including Ed Westwick and Gwyneth Paltrow, behaving badly when they dine out. Is Madonna a bad tipper? Can Dennis Rodman hold his liquor? Find out in this article that’s sure to make you lose your appetite to dine with certain celebrities.
This week, in honor of Mother’s Day, a series of famous chefs are sharing their exclusive tips for OpenTable diners for making eating out with children a pleasurable experience. Today, we check in with one of Manhattan’s most popular chefs.
One of a small group of influential female chefs, chef Alexandra Guarnaschelli has cooked at some of the world’s most famous Michelin-starred restaurants before becoming executive chef at Manhattan’s chic Butter restaurant. A familiar face to fans of “The Cooking Loft” (of which she is the host) and “Chopped” (on which she is a regular judge), Guarnaschelli grew up eating a variety of delicious cuisines, thanks to her mother, the esteemed cookbook editor Maria Guarnaschelli. Now a parent herself, she is introducing her young daughter to new foods and fine dining.
Guarnaschelli reveals, “There was an entire year of my childhood, according to my mother, during which I ate nothing but hamburgers and French fries. My mother always looked worried if I refused to eat and my father would always say the same thing: ‘Leave her alone. When she’s hungry, she’ll eat!’” Guarnaschelli’s best tip about bringing children to dine out is born from that. “Timing your visit so that your child is hungry (but not starving!) when you arrive at a restaurant makes for an easier dining experience. Though toys and games are helpful, some good old-fashioned eating also helps to pass the time for your children.” Also, remember to relax. Dining out is supposed to be fun – for everyone. “In a social situation such as visiting a restaurant, I think it’s best to minimize the pressure on your children. Go through the menu with them and make them feel a part of the experience with you. Talk about what you are going to eat to create some anticipation and excitement.”
As a chef and parent, she advises other parents to communicate allergies or problem ingredients prior to the visit. “I write the chef an email beforehand if I am concerned about certain ingredients. Giving a restaurant advance warning, even if it’s just a day before, can really help,” she adds.
Chefs have access to the finest ingredients and use their inherent creativity to come up with the most delicious recipes to please diners at their popular restaurants. That same creativity has served them well as parents, as they face the challenges of dining out with their children and helping to raise adventurous eaters. This week, in honor of Mother’s Day, a series of famous chefs are sharing their exclusive tips for making eating out with children a pleasurable experience for everyone at the table.
Wolfgang Puck, the chef/owner of Spago Beverly Hills and CUT by Wolfgang Puck (among many others), is one of the first true celebrity chefs, famous for changing the landscape of California cuisine (and pizza!) and becoming a household name. With a dynamic personality and continued culinary brilliance, his success continues to multiply – as has his family.
Chef Puck believes communicating with restaurant staff can be essential to a successful dining experience with children. He says, “My two young boys, Oliver, 4-1/2 years old, and Alexander, 3, do not sit still for more than 45 minutes. So, whenever I take them to a restaurant, I take that into account and I will tell the waitstaff, the faster they can serve us the better. I won’t order a tasting menu for my wife and myself. If you go out to dinner with young children, you want to make sure that you don’t spend three hours at the table. Kids will make you feel uncomfortable and the other guests might get annoyed.”
He also recommends going to favorite and familiar restaurants. “When I go with my young children to a restaurant, I generally go to one where I am well known, and I’ll call them in advance to have something ready as soon as we sit down, like a pasta or a risotto or maybe some chicken skewers, so that way the kids won’t fill up on bread.” The kids will also be immediately engaged in their dining experience.
Along with the foodies everywhere, Wolfgang’s boys adore some of his most popular dishes. He says, “Both of my kids love pizza. Oliver is especially fond of our white truffle pizza, and Alexander loves risotto. As for me, lamb chops are their favorite, and for dessert, panna cotta.”
The folks who run the food and dining section of the Chicago Tribune probably dine out a lot, so it’s not surprising that they’ve got a complaint (or 10) about their fellow diners. Judy Hevrdejs compiled the list, which includes people who linger at a table long after their meal has ended and diners who bring their own salt to a restaurant.
When I was a restaurant worker, I had a lot of complaints about diners. A LOT! As a diner, though, I have just a few, one being people who monopolize the wait staff’s time at the expense of other patrons. You know the people I’m talking about — the ones who ask question after question about the menu, the specials (“What was the first one again? And what did the other one come with?”), or the server’s personal life (“You’re from Texas! How’d you wind up in New York?”), while you wait and wait (and wait) for your check.
What do your fellow restaurant diners do that drives you mad? Has another patron’s behavior ever ruined your dining experience altogether? Tell us about it here or over on Facebook.