September 13, 2016

A Great Kids’ Menu Isn’t Child’s Play

Children's menus can be full of nutritious and tasty options.

Anyone who has seen a parent trying to feed an uncooperative child knows how hard it can be to get kids to eat nutritious meals. Even seasoned professionals face challenges when they cook for the youngest diners. During your education in culinary courses, it’s important to learn how to make not just dishes for sophisticated adult palates, but also ones suitable for the tastes and dietary needs of kids.

Developing a menu for kids
Many family-oriented restaurants keep simple, comforting items like chicken fingers or spaghetti and meatballs on the menu for kids. Still, chefs are increasingly striving to teach kids about what the culinary world has to offer. As Bon Appetit pointed out, one way to bring these two approaches together is by making kid-approved staples like hot dogs with the same care and high-quality ingredients as food for adults.

“Chefs teach kids what the culinary world has to offer.”

On the other hand, sometimes a child wants to feel like one of the grown-ups while enjoying dinner out. Offering more complex and unusual choices can develop their tastes and ensure their meals are packed with essential nutrients. Full-Service Restaurants noted that some farm-to-table establishments focus on providing kids with fresh ingredients that are appealing to the eye, even if the dishes involve unfamiliar vegetables or cuts of meat. Other menus simply include the option to order an adult dish in a smaller portion.

London-based chef Theo Randall advocated establishing better menus for children by paying greater attention to their particular needs. He told Metro one essential consideration is kids’ sensitivity to powerful tastes.

“The most common problem is overseasoning,” Randall said. “Whether it’s just tagliatelle with butter and Parmesan or a piece of grilled chicken, you can’t put loads of herbs or salt and pepper on it – that’s when dishes come back.”

Exceptional options for young guests
A number of restaurants have found ways to keep kids and parents happy with delicious and healthful items on their children’s menus. Even the pickiest youngsters will find something to love at these establishments.

At Southbound in Richmond, Virginia, chef Joe Sparatta concentrates the kids’ menu on simple dishes with fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Among the options are fish and chips, chicken breast with grits, a cheeseburger, and a side of seasonal vegetables . The macaroni and cheese consists of four cheeses and house-made pasta.

Masschusetts-based chain Legal Seafoods has children’s offerings like steamed lobster, grilled fish and ravioli in fish shapes. The meals come with fresh fruits and vegetables as well as a choice of rice, mashed potatoes or french fries. Parents magazine praised the restaurants for measures like serving the fries without added salt, helping parents to teach their kids to make healthier choices.

Whether your online culinary arts certificate leads to a career as a caterer, on a ship or at a restaurant, chances are you’ll have to prepare numerous dishes for children. With some guidance from the best kids’ menus out there, you can craft meals that will have younger diners digging in.