Chef Charlie Palmer Serves Up His Tips for Taking Kids to Restaurants

Charlie Palmer Chef Charlie Palmer Serves Up His Tips for Taking Kids to Restaurants
Photo: Dan Walbridge

Our exclusive series of interviews with famous chefs who are also parents concludes today with this advice from chef Charlie Palmer.

Celebrated chef Charlie Palmer has combined his creative cooking spirit and flair for business to open 13 notable restaurants across the country, including the highly acclaimed Aureole, a growing collection of food-forward wine shops, and award-winning boutique hotels. A James Beard Foundation honoree and the author of numerous cookbooks, Palmer continues to be one of the world’s most innovative and important chefs.

A father to four boys, Palmer knows a thing or two about dining out with kids. To make sure your children remain engaged, he recommends, “Remember to take something with you to entertain the kids. A fun activity between courses or after you order can really improve the overall experience. When my family dines out, we sometimes take ‘Table Topics’ with us, and then we each go around the table with a trivia card. It takes up the time between courses and everyone is entertained.”

Until you know your kids will enjoy an extended meal, Palmer says, “Don’t take them to a high-end restaurant when the experience will take multiple hours if your child doesn’t like sitting still for that long. You would be better off taking them to a restaurant that is loud, active, and a bit quicker.” Also, he adds, “If you know your child has certain food allergies, call ahead to the restaurant and see how flexible they can be with the menu to determine if it’s going to be a good situation for you.”

True to form, this chef serves food his offspring enjoy! He admits, “My kids love all of the dishes. They aren’t allowed to order anything ‘special’ anymore, they have to order off the menu and experience the food the way the chefs intended!”

Best Restaurants for Outdoor Dining: OpenTable 2010 Diners’ Choice Winners

Best Outdoor Dining 2010 Best Restaurants for Outdoor Dining: OpenTable 2010 Diners Choice WinnersJust in time for the sunny weather,  OpenTable is pleased to announce the 50 restaurant winners of OpenTable’s 2010 Diners’ Choice Awards for Best Outdoor Dining. Derived from nearly four million reviews submitted by OpenTable diners of nearly 11,000 restaurants in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, this list celebrates the restaurants that provide an amazing al fresco dining experience.

Often the secret ingredient to an extraordinary meal, outdoor seating creates a more social dining experience. You’re not only dining with your companions — it can feel as though you’re dining with folks who are simply strolling down the street. Outdoor dining is also a terrific option for out-of-towners looking to soak up some scenery while taking advantage of a city’s food scene.

While there are many winners in sunny California and Florida, the list includes plenty of standouts in other states, such as Arcadia Farms in Scottsdale, Arizona, Coyote Crossing in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, Hau Tree Lanai in Honolulu, Hawaii, Ovations at Wolf Trap in Vienna, Virginia, and Red Hat on the River in Irvington, New York.

Find out if your favorite is on the list, and book your first outdoor dining adventure of the season to make the most of a great day or evening.

Chef Barbara Lynch Reveals Recipe for Raising Adventurous Eaters

Barbara Lynch Chef Barbara Lynch Reveals Recipe for Raising Adventurous Eaters
Photo: Justin Ide

With Mother’s Day and parenting on our minds, we continue our series of interviews with famous chefs who are raising children as they raise their reputations in the culinary world. Today, Boston chef Barbara Lynch discusses how she approaches dining out with her young daughter.

James Beard award-winning chef/restaurateur Barbara Lynch, whose newest restaurant is Menton, grew up in the hardscrabble neighborhood of South Boston, getting her first kitchen job cooking at a local rectory at the age of 13. Since then, she has become one of Boston’s most revered chefs — as well as a mom to daughter Marchesa, 6, and a proud stepmom to three grown children. It’s no surprise, then, that she advocates for parents to dine out with their children at an early age. She urges, “Take them out! The sooner they are taught table manners and included in dinners out, the sooner they will behave and maybe even become more adventurous eaters.”

For your first trips dining out with your child, “Start with places that you know the kids will love or that are particularly child-friendly and then work your way up to other types of restaurants. Eating together should be a fun experience and a chance to enjoy each other’s company.” Lynch and her friends would include her daughter in relaxing Sunday brunches with nearly a dozen of friends. She says, “Marchesa could color at the table while we chatted, and the fact that she absolutely loved the chocolate cake helped, too.”

Lynch says of her daughter’s developing palate, “From the time she was a baby, she adored gnocchi with Mimolette, which is like REALLY, REALLY good mac and cheese! These days she can’t get enough of the fried calamari at B&G Oysters…loves them!” If your child isn’t ready for these flavors, she suggests, “I think every child goes through phases where they hate all green things or will only eat macaroni and cheese, but they are usually just that — phases and short-lived. I think the trick is to encourage them to have a bit of everything—just try!”

Chef Terrance Brennan of Artisanal on the Art of Dining Out with Kids

Terrance Brennan Chef Terrance Brennan of Artisanal on the Art of Dining Out with Kids
Photo: Courtesy of The Artisanal Group

With a little more than a week until Mother’s Day, we continue our series of interviews with famous chefs who are also parents. Today, Artisanal’s Terrance Brennan talks about dining with his three children and navigating their unique appetites.

Known for introducing the traditional European cheese course to American diners through his restaurants and Manhattan’s Artisanal Premium Cheese Center, Terrance Brennan’s growing restaurant group also includes the Michelin-starred Picholine, a longtime favorite of New York’s gastronomes. As he expands his restaurants in Seattle, this ambitious chef has still managed to find time to be a dedicated dad to his three children, ages 11, 15, and 17.

Chef Brennan emphasizes the importance of manners when introducing children to the world of fine dining. “My number one piece of advice would be to teach your children manners.” Modeling good dining behavior is also helpful. He says, “Lead by example. Parents should show respect to waitstaff and other members of the service team, so children can see how to handle themselves in a restaurant.” Interacting with each other during the meal is important, too. “Whether dining at home or dining out, it’s valuable time at the table meant for conversations, checking in, and not just playing video games and playing on iPhones. That being said, don’t be overly strict with too many rules!” He admits that his children eat too quickly. “Remind your children to enjoy and chew and really experience the food…this is something I am always encouraging.”

To help create a successful dining out experience, he recommends trying to find a restaurant at which your children will be able to eat something they love. He shares, “I have three kids and each of them likes different things. So, make sure you pick a restaurant that’s flexible and has diverse options. My daughter is adventurous, and my two boys are not so adventurous.  The boys won’t eat fish, but my daughter will; she loves lobster bisque.” As for their favorites at his restaurants, Brennan says, “At Artisanal Bistro, my children love the gougeres, Jamón Ibérico, steak frites, profiteroles and chicken under brick. They also love the pizza at Bar Artisanal.”

Dine Out for Life on April 29 and Join the Fight Against AIDS

Dining Out for Life April292010 Dine Out for Life on April 29 and Join the Fight Against AIDSGoing 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.

Participating cities include Chicago, Denver, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Philadelphia, St. Louis San Francisco, and many others. Find a table in your town, and dine out for life today and tonight to join the fight against AIDS!

Chef Michael Anthony Talks About Dining with His Kids at Gramercy Tavern

Chef Michael Anthony Chef Michael Anthony Talks About Dining with His Kids at Gramercy Tavern
Photo: Ellen Silverman

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!”

Dining Out on Mother’s Day: The Best Time to Dine

Mothers Day 2010 Survey Dining Out on Mothers Day: The Best Time to DineMother’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%).

Moms will enjoy lots of love from restaurateurs this year, with free cocktails and other goodies available at many restaurants. Read more about interesting offers and additional survey results in our press room, and find a table today to make this Mother’s Day the best yet.

Are Ed Westwick and Gwyneth Paltrow Stars You Don’t Want to Dine With?

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.

Chef Alexandra Guarnaschelli on Dining at Restaurants with Children

Alex Guarnaschelli Chef Alexandra Guarnaschelli on Dining at Restaurants with Children
Photo: Bill Durgin

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.

World’s 50 Best Restaurants: S. Pellegrino and Restaurant Mag Name 2010 Winners

San Pelligrino and Restaurant magazine have announced their picks for the world’s 50 best restaurants in 2010. It’s a very international list, and many of them are part of the OpenTable network. Honorees include Daniel, Per Se, Le Bernardin, The French Laundry, St. John, wd-50, and Eleven Madison Park.

It’s a big question, but what restaurant is the world’s best? Pick your absolute favorite and reveal it here or share it with your fellow diners on Facebook.