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Chefs are used to a tough audience. They feed people every day and some of us can be picky and insist on “having a word with the chef”. Remember, that chefs are parents too, and we know that kids can be fussy eaters. Chefs try to inspire in their children a love of food. They don’t just feed their young; they also cook with them—an act of relaxation, learning and love over a stove. Six chefs share what they cook for their kids:
Gautam Mehrishi: Celebrity chef and TV host, Mehrishi admits that among his children, his daughter Aarushi is his biggest critic, while his son Aarav prefers simpler flavours and smooth textures, although he does have some bizarre requests at times, like Chinese-flavoured kebabs! “Aarushi is always pushing me to create something different, nothing run-of-the-mill. She loves Italian and Thai, so if she wants to eat that, then I will have to make it less spicy but with Indian chillies, and the colour should be pure. And if I were making fish, pomfret is too mainstream so I would have to cook a John Dory, while Aarav challenges me to cook simple,” the chef shares.
Mehrishi’s young ones are hooked onto Chef’s Table, the documentary on Netflix and expect their daddy to deliver such high standards too. “Aarushi is particular about the plating and presentation, and cares about the crockery used, while Aarav likes his food clean and minimal.” He also has an herb garden at home, and keeps experimenting in the kitchen. But they both share a common love: Chocolate and desserts. “The biggest challenge is their birthday cake. One must be different from the others, and different from the previous year. While Aarushi prefers Single Origin 42% Ghana chocolate in her Lava cake, Aarav prefer milk chocolate in his cookies,” says Mehrishi.
Father’s Day plan: “I am opening a restaurant soon, so my kids will come to my kitchen on Sunday and try the coastal and seafood options that I will serve.”
Irfan Pabaney: Chef and co-owner of The Sassy Spoon, Pabaney admits that he doesn’t cook too often at home, and the reason behind that is simple: “My wife thinks that I am a messy cook,” he chuckles. He adds, “Luckily, my 13-year-old daughter Aalika is not fussy at all. She is open to experimenting and loves Chasu Pao, dimsums and sushi; and the food at The Sassy Spoon. It’s a treat to travel with her because, like me, she wants to experience the local cuisine and food culture, and not want to eat at a fast food joint.”
Pabaney highlights that her tastes are pretty simple and she’s a good cook too, chocolate chips and Nutella being her loves so these ingredients always find their way into muffins, brownies, cookies and pancakes. “I have a lot of memories of us cooking pasta together, and we always made breakfast together, like pancakes and crepes. I taught her how to flip the pancake without a spatula, and she once surprised me by making a delicious meatloaf,” says the proud dad.
Father’s Day plan: “We will be spending the day in the kitchen making pull-apart bread from scratch, which we will pair with chicken.”
Ramasamy Selvaraju: Executive Chef at Vivanta by Taj in Bengaluru, Selvaraju is a devoted father and can cook 24X7 if needed and often comes home from work and puts together a delectable meal for his family. Selvaraju recollects that since their childhood, his children would sit on the countertop and watch their father cook, and love his food. “My sons Abhishek’s and Anup’s tastes are poles apart. While Abhishek loves European food like thin-crust pizza with a tomato-base sauce, my roast chicken with potatoes and brown sauce, and for pasta he loves the Arabiatta that I make, with lots of chillies and tomatoes.
On the other hand, Anup loves Pan-Asian food, I make Dimsums (made with tang ming flour) filled with chicken or prawns, salt and pepper prawns, crispy lamb with burnt garlic rice for him,” Selvaraju shares. So what’s the one thing that they agree on? Pat comes the chef’s reply: “Desserts! They love chocolate walnut brownies, tender coconut ice cream with nuts and chocolate sauce. I also make chocolates with a variety of home-made fillings like chilli or orange chocolate, which they devour.” The chef appreciates his sons’ efforts in the kitchen too, mostly with peeling and chopping.
Father’s Day plan: “My sons have informed me that they will be taking their parents out for lunch on that day. And for dinner, I will make pepperoni pizza, salt and pepper prawns and Conjee crispy lamb—it’s a surprise and I have already made the arrangements for the raw material.”
Mayank Kulshreshtha: The Executive Chef at Mumbai’s ITC Maratha is a proud father to two lovely girls, Niharika and Malvika. The experienced chef admits that it’s not easy to cook for your own kids “as they are your greatest critics and motivators. It’s commendable how the mothers of this world can cook for them day-in-and-day-out without any hassles. Hats off to the mothers,” applauds the chef. “Honestly, I used to cook about thrice a month for my kids. But now, it’s whenever Niharika is visiting home,” Kulshreshtha adds.
His daughters may have different taste preferences, but when the chef is cooking, they are on one team. Apart from Indian Non-vegetarian, they enjoy Oriental, Italian and Mexican flavours. “They love my waffles and pancakes with shakes and cold coffee too. Over the years, the list of favourites has gotten longer, but few of the regular ones are Murgh Korma, salt and pepper prawns and innovative sandwiches/wraps, pasta, grills, barbeques and bakes (both vegetarian and non-vegetarian), cupcakes, caramel custard, mousses and soufflé,” concludes Kulshreshtha.
Father’s Day plan: “I will be celebrating by going out for lunch or dinner with Malvika and my wife Nidhi. Malvika will pick the cuisine and restaurant.”
Vicky Ratnani: Gourmand, Connoisseur, Celebrity Chef Ratnani has passed on his love for food to his daughter Tanisha. The little girl has already started experimenting in the kitchen, and makes her own eggs, cookies, cakes, smoothies and waffles, thanks to the waffle machine that Ratnani recently bought. “During my travels, I collect and buy several condiments and hot sauces. When I come home, Tanisha experiments with them in the kitchen. She loves spicy food,” says the chef and restaurant-owner.
Father’s Day plan: “I am unfortunately travelling on Father’s Day, but I have promised her a pasta-date before I leave or when I am back. It will be a spicy mushroom pasta, thanks to the hot sauces and mushrooms that I have sourced from different countries. We are especially excited to try the dehydrated mushrooms that I brought back from my recent trip to Shillong.”
Ajay Chopra: TV show host and celebrity chef indulges his sons Ashish and Akshat with his cooking on weekends for sure, and on weekdays if he has the time. The boys had visited the sets of their father’s TV show Northern Flavour and were surprised by the amount he cooks on the show. “They sincerely asked me why I don’t cook that much at home!” says Chopra. Speaking of their favourites, Chopra says, “Pancakes...I need to make them fluffy pancakes in the shape of their favourite cartoon characters. One day, it will be Mickey Mouse, and the next day it may be Bumblebee, and so on.”
His sons are poles apart when it comes to their taste preferences. “Ashish is the gourmand who can pick the best dishes from a menu. At home, he loves my Mackerel roulade, butter-garlic prawns, and samosas and kachori; he’s crazy about chocolate and nutella. Akshat, on the other hand, is a boy of simple tastes. He doesn’t like eating out too much, and prefers home-made roti and veggies. He even likes his pancakes plain. I recollect on one of his birthdays, he refused to let us host a party in a restaurant. Instead, we called his friends home for chole-bhature and pav bhaji made by me.”
Father’s Day plan: “Last year, my sons baked a cake for me, and the year before that they made a hand-painted shirt. So, I am looking forward to this year. I am planning to make egg rolls and pizza, and make a party out of it.”
Creative by Vartika Pahuja