Kids at heart: Local chefs sound off on cooking with children

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Will Richey is working with his son, Alston, on proper knife skills, while his daughter, Marie, handles the seasoning and mixing. Photo: Amy Jackson Will Richey is working with his son, Alston, on proper knife skills, while his daughter, Marie, handles the seasoning and mixing. Photo: Amy Jackson

Urban legend goes like this: Chefs cook so much on the job, they eat simple stuff when they’re cooking at home.

But what about when they get their kids involved—their ravenous but picky, ever-growing but moody kids? Three local chefs told us a few things they like to pack in their kids’ lunches and what they cook when they’re working together in the kitchen.

Harrison Keevil
(Brookville Restaurant, Keevil & Keevil Grocery)

Caroline, 3, and Grace, 2

Packed to go: Keevil approaches packed lunch like any other balanced meal, he says, trying to include fruits and veggies, a starch and meat or cheese. He says the kids are into watermelon, peas and especially broccoli these days. “They love their greens and fruits,” he says. “I imagine it’s because we try to get the best local produce just like we do at Brookville.” And, just like their dad, they “love sandwiches.”

Prepared at home: Keevil’s daughters are still on the young side, but they’re in the restaurant often and love watching their dad work. At home, Keevil and his wife, Jennifer, get Caroline and Grace involved with build-your-own-pizza night. (Broccoli is always one of the toppings.) Caroline is an adventurous eater, Keevil says—“she was crushing some crab the other night”—but he does try to keep the seasoning mild. And that’s actually improved his own sensitivity to salt.

In the Maupins' kitchen, Dean and his wife, Erin, supervise while the kids take over cooking duty. Photo: Amy Jackson
In the Maupins’ kitchen, Dean and his wife, Erin, supervise while the kids take over cooking duty. Photo: Amy Jackson

Dean Maupin
(C&O Restaurant)

Ellery, 8, Grant 6, and Corinne, 4

Packed to go: Maupin says he plays it by the book when it comes to takeaway meals, sending things like fresh fruit and veggies, cheese and crackers and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. He also likes to mix in some rice cakes.
“My kids don’t eat school lunch, not because we frown upon it, but because packing their lunch is what they’re accustomed to.” To ensure the kids don’t leave their vegetables in the lunchbox, Maupin says he relies on kid-friendly varieties like raw sugar snap peas, edamame and cucumbers.

Prepared at home: The Maupin family started raising chickens in the spring, and when the first egg was laid, his daughter asked if she should scramble it or do it sunnyside up. “The fact that she found that egg and that was the first thing she said, that was surprising,” he says. “She’s a natural and destined to be a chef—but I don’t know if I want her to be.”

Maupin, whose wife is a pastry chef, said Ellery’s love of cooking has been vaulted not only by her parents but also by “Kids Baking Championship” on Food Network. “She will sit there and watch those episodes over and over,” he says. “It’s a well done show.”

Will Richey
(Revolutionary Soup, The Whiskey Jar, The Alley Light)

Alston, 7, and Marie, 3

Packed to go: Richey says he and his wife pack lunches about 50 percent of the time. For a while he says his son was “stuck on peanut butter and jelly,” but he’s gotten him to branch out more recently. Richey’s careful about the fruits he packs, favoring items that require minimal prep but don’t bruise or smoosh easily, like apples and grapes.

Alston’s particularly into homemade trail mix, according to Richey. They make a batch most mornings using a few nuts and seeds (peanuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds) and dried fruit (raisins, craisins, dried apricots).

Prepared at home: Both of Richey’s kids are into cooking in their own right, he says. Marie likes seasoning and mixing, and while Alston’s developed a healthy caution around fire, he’s working with his dad on proper knife skills. “I don’t do anything differently than I would in the restaurant. I teach him to keep the knife on the knuckle and keep the point on the board,” he says. 

Kids in the kitchen

Want to get your kid cooking? Says Chef Maupin, “This is a great recipe to make with kids, simply for the fact that the process of measuring ingredients is perfect for kids to do, and it has a lot of that and is easy and delicious.” And, bonus: The recipe can be switched up with any nut or spice, so your little one will never tire of it.

Coconut Pecan Granola

In a large bowl:

4 cups rolled oats

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

1 cup pecans, roughly chopped

1/2 cup sesame seeds, chia seeds, sliced
almonds or any other small “mix-in”

1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp. dried ginger

1 tsp. cinnamon

Mix together, and set aside.

In a small pot:

1 cup coconut oil (use extra-virgin for
best flavor)

4 tbs. butter

2 tsp. salt

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1/4 cup maple syrup, pure

1 tsp. vanilla

Heat the ingredients on the stove until the brown sugar has dissolved some, and everything is melted and hot. Pour over the dry mixture, toss together well. Spread granola between two sheet pans, and bake in the oven (275 degrees) for approximately 1 1/2 hours or until lightly golden. Stir with a spatula every 15 minutes. Cool completely and store in air-tight jars. Will keep for three weeks.

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