Chefs on Father’s Day

Chefs, Entertain, Holidays, Meet

Curtis Stone

With Father’s Day right around the corner, we asked some of our favorite chefs how they celebrate the holiday, with both their kids and their own fathers. Read on to hear what they had to say about their family traditions, most memorable childhood meals, and the most important kitchen lessons they’ve learned from Dad. Happy Father’s Day!

 

Curtis Stone

 

Curtis Stone is an Australian chef, author and TV personality known for appearing on Top Chef Masters. He was previously head chef at Marco Pierre White’s restaurant Quo Vadis.

 

Did your dad cook when you were growing up? If so, what was his specialty? 

Like most Aussies, my dad loved cooking on the barbie—everything from fresh seafood to lamb burgers.

 

What’s your specialty that your son can’t get enough of?

Hudson at the moment is crazy about fruit. Strawberries send him into fits of joy.

 

When you were little, were there any kitchen disasters Mom had to step in and fix? What about now – anything Mom does best?

My mum definitely saved me from burning down the house a few times as a kid! She’s a great cook and to this day makes the best roast pork on the planet.

 

How did you celebrate Father’s Day as a kid? What about now?

In Australia Father’s Day happens in early spring, when it’s still pretty cold outside, so my brother Luke and I would bundle up and take my dad golfing. Now I’m the dad, and living in the states, it’s a summer holiday. There’s nothing I like better than a backyard barbecue with my nearest and dearest.

 

Does your son help you cook at all? What’s his specialty?

He’s still a bit young to wield a knife, but every morning he sits on the counter and we make a smoothie together. He’s in charge of pressing the button on the blender. It takes us a while, but I love the bonding time.

 

What’s the most important lesson about food or cooking you’ve learned from your dad? What do you want to teach your son about cooking?

My dad is really relaxed as a rule and cooking for him is no different. I love that laid-back vibe in the kitchen. My son loves our veggie garden, so I plan to teach him all about where our food comes from and to appreciate the beauty of seasonal produce.

 

Suzanne Goin

 

 

Suzanne Goin is the chef and owner of LucquesA.O.C., TavernThe Larder at Maple Drive, and The Larder at Burton Way in Los Angeles.

 

Did your dad cook when you were growing up? If so, what was his specialty?

My dad loved to cook, but he had the luxury of not having to do it on a daily basis (that was my mom’s “job”), so he really did cook for pleasure. He was the weekend cook. I spent many a Saturday and Sunday afternoon in the kitchen with my dad working on one of his mid-day meals. He was really into making these rustic Italian stews and soups — like pasta fagoli and pasta rustica — with beans, cabbage, pork, pasta and more, finished with olive oil and grated parmesan. I was his prep cook, mincing parsley, cutting bacon (always with scissors), grating parmesan and chopping tomatoes. When we would go out to eat he was really focused on French food, but at home he always cooked like an Italian peasant!

 

What did you cook for your dad as a kid? What do you cook now that he can’t get enough of?

My dad had a real sweet tooth, but we didn’t have dessert at home except for on special occasions. I loved to make desserts and sweet treats for him. When I was really young I used to make penuche for him. It was a sort of butterscotch fudge that didn’t have to be cooked. I still have the Betty Crocker “Cooking for Kids” book that I got the recipe from. He loved custards, and as I got older I made floating island for him and a special French pudding called “Le Diplomat.”  I learned the recipe at Ma Maison when I was 17. I also used to make a dessert he loved, which was big baked meringues stuffed with vanilla ice cream and finished with chocolate sauce and chopped almonds. I still serve this most Father’s Days at Lucques for Sunday Supper.

 

When you were little, did your dad create any kitchen disasters Mom had to step in and fix?

No! My dad was super anal and precise. My mom and I were much more likely to get into messes and disasters that we would need to HIDE from him!

 

How did you celebrate Father’s Day as a kid? What about now?

My sister Jessica and I used to write a huge menu and pretend like it was a restaurant.  My dad was a bit of a tease and trouble maker so he would always try to find the hardest thing to make and order that, so we had to be very careful! As I grew older I would make a big dinner for him too — foie gras, filet marchand de vins — my dad was quite the gourmet!

 

What’s the most important lesson about food or cooking you’ve learned from your dad?

My dad taught me how important food, cooking and time around the table are to be together. For him it was an essential part of life and one of its great joys. Although he is no longer with us, these memories are with me daily and I remember these stories with great tenderness and love.

 

Barton Seaver

 

Barton Seaver

Barton Seaver is a chef, cookbook author and National Geographic fellow known for his emphasis on sustainability

 

Did your dad cook when you were growing up? If so, what was his specialty?

My dad was a very intrepid cook, and when I was growing up his food became quite popular with my circle of friends. Family dinner was a non-negotiable event in my house, so if I wanted to hang out with my friends, it was simple: invite them for dinner. The invites were never turned down! Whether it was taco night with tortillas made fresh from moistened masa harina dough or a stir-fry, the food was a draw. So you could say that I was popular in high school because my dad was cool. Oh well.

 

My father was best known for his cooking on the grill. He was very wise about how to coax out the best flavor from the smoldering embers. One of his most popular dishes was a lemon and garlic marinated lamb leg that he would char to a burnt crust and then let slowly roast over a dying flame until it was a perfect roseate. The crackle and aggressive crunch paired with the moist and lean meat was a revelation. He was also well regarded for his skills in cooking seafood. In the years since, I have come to realize that the brilliance of my father’s fish cooking was that he knew well enough to stay out of the way and to let the natural flavors shine. This is a lesson that I have applied to my own cooking.

 

What’s your kid-friendly specialty?

We have not yet been blessed to have children of our own, but the little child that still lives in me is very fond of mac n’ cheese that I make — a replication of my father’s recipe. It starts with a thick béchamel and is loaded with grated sharp white cheddar cheese and tossed with pasta until it resembles a yet-to-set Rice Crispy treat. Damn, it’s tasty. 

 

My goddaughter loves her some grilled kale and broiled broccoli. In America we tend to like things that are crunchy, and yet the practice of cooking vegetables is to make them softer. So why not just burn them? I took to doing this to add crunch and a slightly bitter charred flavor and I haven’t looked back since. Lightly oiled kale or previously steamed broccoli thrown onto a hot grill or under the broiler and left until charred is a great way to get your vegetables and enjoy them too.

 

When you were little, were there any kitchen disasters Mom had to step in and fix? What about now – anything Mom does best?

Dad was the short order cook of the family. My mom handled the long, slow-cooked dishes such as chili, stuffed rolled grape leaves, and the two-month macerated fruitcake. The division of labor was not complete, but this was much of the way things were. I don’t remember many disasters that were fixable. There was the time that a couple of gallons of curry tipped over in the trunk of the Volvo on the way to a potluck. And the time that a family cat fell off the top cupboard, tumbling into a warm pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving. Those events had little recourse. There was one time when my father made a stir-fry and accidentally added a couple tablespoons of salt in place of sugar. It was simply inedible and yet my dad insisted that it was just fine. My mom had to lovingly step in and excuse us boys from the table without having finished our dinner.

 

How did you celebrate Father’s Day as a kid? What about now?

I remember spending Father’s day at the ballpark watching the Orioles play in old Memorial Stadium. This was a dual holiday for us, as Father’s Day usually fell just around Dad’s birthday. We didn’t really celebrate these events with any huge fanfare but we knew that it was a day to be on our best behavior, which might have been gift enough.

 

What’s the most important lesson about food or cooking you’ve learned from your dad? 

That through food we seek to feed a more complicated hunger. We seek community and family and comfort and joy. Through food we create jobs, and connect with our community, participate in our heritage and that of other people. I learned from my dad (and mom) that when we gather around a table to share a meal with friends and family that we are taking part in a blessing that not only feeds our biology but helps us to write our biographies.

One comment about “Chefs on Father’s Day

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