The finger guard is my new favorite kitchen tool; it keeps you from cutting off your fingertips while chopping carrots.
When your ten-year-old starts debating the relative merits of opening a bakery or a full-service restaurant, you know it’s time to buy him a serious knife. But first, he had to promise to learn to chop onions (which he has since learned to do, wearing swim goggles.)
A few weeks ago, we had a serious talk about the realities of the food world. “You know that you have to love food and business to make it as a restaurant owner, don’t you?”
“Chefs don’t get a lot of sleep. Are you okay with that?”
A smile. (He’s ten. I’ll ask about sleep again in a few years.)
“Okay, then,” I said. “So when you open your restaurant, you either need to stay local or I’ll be moving nearby. I’ll need a daily taste of whatever you’re making.”
I got another smile for that one.
Josh is our little cook and tycoon, the one who can beat almost anyone at Monopoly or Settlers of Catan or chess. He’s not shy about making his mark. Or a frozen berry soufflé, garlic cheese bread (from scratch, with yeast) or teriyaki stir fry.
For winter break, he asked to have a cooking party.
“Sure,” I said. Why not? I said he could invite 3-4 friends, and they had to be dedicated cooks. That eliminated a few of his favorite buddies, but I couldn’t risk anyone ending up bored.
My friends (the parents of the lucky cooks) thought I was crazy. Fun, but crazy. Not one of them volunteered to staff the celebration with me.
And none of the guests brought vegetable suggestions; only desserts. The good news is that we were able to settle on a few good choices to accompany the sugar and carbs. Within ten minutes of everyone arriving, we had agreed on a menu. Then I sent the chefs downstairs to watch a movie so I could draft a grocery list.
The next morning, I slipped into producer mode, dividing up tasks, putting Connor (Josh’s go-to-babysitter, and an experienced cook in his own right) to work with two kids making brownies while the other three whipped up a berry soufflé.
Connor was also the creative director behind the evening’s printed menu.
As the day went on, everyone took a turn cutting fruit and stir-frying vegetables. They set the table, filled water glasses, even loaded the dishwasher. By 6 p.m., food was warming in the oven, a welcome sign had been taped above the kitchen door, the hosts were decked out with neckties, order pads and pens; and servers were in their aprons.
I, for one, was exhausted.
What a day. A fun and creative and adventuresome day.
Josh wants to do it again. He knows they’ll have to find another willing parent to host. But maybe next year I’ll give it another go. In the meantime, I need to find out if the 3D printer at Josh’s school could make a plastic finger guard in my size. That thing is brilliant.