Thoughts From a Chef on How to Teach a Kid to Love Food

kids cooking pizza

Nate Appleman thinks there's always a reason for kids not liking a particular food; the key is to get around that.

Nate Appleman has a remarkable Instagram account. The professional chef posts pictures of his home cooking -- beautiful, sumptuous meals that most of us would hope to eat at a restaurant, let alone at home. Think pork belly with kimchi, squid with potatoes and chorizo, and broccolini with crispy hen-of-the-woods mushrooms and parmigiano.

Even more impressive is the fact that Appleman has a young son, 10-year-old Oli, who eats all of this food. According to Food & Wine magazine, Appleman expects his son to partake of these gourmet meals. He told the magazine,

"I don't believe that kids don’t like certain things just because; there are always circumstances that cause that."

So, did Appleman just "get lucky" with a kid who's not picky? Or did he implement some kind of educational strategy that would ensure a non-fussy child? It turns out, he's staunchly in the latter category, a believer in a parent's ability to teach a child to love food. Here's what he has done over the years to help Oli learn.

1. Don't cater to the kid's tastes. Enough with the frozen fish sticks, Cheerios, and salami! Their tastes are undeveloped; they have no idea what's out there. The younger the child, the easier it is to expose them to new flavors, so start young and never stop.

2. Celebrate food on a daily basis. Food is of utmost importance, and yet it's often neglected. Appleman said, "I want my son to grow up with the idea of treating food as something special every single night." Hence, the emphasis on preparing delicious meals and sharing them regularly, and ensuring that this ritual takes priority over other activities.

3. Teach your kid how to operate in a kitchen. Lessons in organization, preparedness, and patience are valuable and can be applied to other aspects of life. Then there's the added bonus of having a kid who understands food and flavor, wants to cook, and then happily eats his or her own concoctions.

These are wise words for parents with kids of all ages. The act of preparing food is so foundational, so incredibly important to physical development and health, building relationships and having great conversations, and practicing valuable skills that will set your child up for success for life.

In the meantime, I think I need to up my supper game. Nate Appleman's pictures have made me hungry.