Daniel Boulud caused quite a stir when he invited a group of six young children to his two-Michelin-starred restaurant Daniel in Manhattan, New York, three years back. The seven-course fine-dining meal was received with much humorous effect — “I can’t wait until we have dessert” and “this looks strange, but delicious” were some of the comments overheard at the white-clothed round table.
The goal, Boulud told The New York Times, was “for the children to really discover a lot of flavour, a lot of layers, a lot of texture.”
It seems like the acclaimed chef isn’t the only one looking to expose young children to a world of flavours. Over in Singapore, chef Emmanuel Stroobant of one-Michelin-starred Saint Pierre has a four-course menu specially designed for young diners. The menu encompasses the four primary tastes of the human tongue — sweet, sour, salty and bitter — and is served fine-dining style, as an adult meal would be.
Herb-crusted purple artichoke, turmeric emulsion and marigold on the four-course children's menu at Saint Pierre.
Bitter, for instance, comes through in a course of hay-smoked hamachi, while Stroobant uses herb-crusted purple artichoke and lobster belly to highlight sour and sweet flavours respectively. “We also hope that parents can capture this extraordinary rapport and savour precious bonding time with their child at Saint Pierre’s dining table,” says a representative from Saint Pierre.
At Como Cuisine in Dempsey, the focus is on healthy food in this well-lit space decorated with pretty air plants, and children get to eat just as well as adults.
“Here at COMO, we believe nurturing young palates is a must from the start. So we try not to make a children’s menu per se, but to incorporate a few dishes that are fun and interesting for children,” says executive chef Timothy de Souza.
Their rice paper rolls, for instance, are a good way to introduce children to food from different cultures. In this case, Gỏi Cuốn — Vietnamese rolls of fresh shrimp and plenty of chopped vegetables wrapped in thin rice paper.
Meanwhile in London, English chef Mark Hix has been known to be a champion of better-quality kids’ menus in fine-dining restaurants. So, it’s little wonder then that his stylish eponymous outfit in Browns Hotel, Mayfair, offers more than your regular fish ‘n’ chips. Instead, kids between four and 12 get to pick from adult items such as honey-roasted fillets of chicken with wild rice and hummus.
But if Boulud’s experiment was any indication, it looks like young kids might still prefer their pizzas and burgers over the likes of seared Hamachi or filet. Still, a fancy palate takes time to build up, and it never hurts to start them young.
Meryl Koh is former Digital Associate Editor with the Michelin Guide Singapore. The former magazine writer has reported on food as well as the luxury sector, and is equally fascinated talking to hawkers or CEOs. Her hunger for heart-felt connections and breaking stories is fuelled by a good cup of kopi-C, occasionally spiked with a shot of whisky.
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