There are few things more powerful than eating together. Food brings people together around tables across the world. And as great as eating together is, cooking together takes the cake (no pun intended).
As we ramp up to Father’s Day, I can’t help but think about the wonderful memories my father and I have in the kitchen.
My father is a meat and potatoes kind of guy. He enjoys cooking, and he’s very good at it, but I couldn’t call him Gordon Ramsay’s apprentice. As a matter of fact, Gordon Ramsay would probably scream profanities at my father, not once, not twice, but several times. (Sorry Dad!) But the times I’ve spent with my father in the kitchen are some of the best times of my life. When I was a kid, I would ask to help with important sous chef activities like washing vegetables or peeling carrots. As a teenager, it was the time we connected over all those important teenage things like who-said-what, or trying to convince him all the reasons I should stay home sick the next day. And as an adult, it’s the time to share a glass of wine or beer, get advice, and catch up as friends.
Growing up, dinner was an important part of our family’s routine. Having a balanced meal was always part of our day. Cooking was something my father stressed you should take pride in. He engrained in me at an early age that a home cooked meal is something rewarding, and it's worth the time and effort to make something delicious. No matter how late someone worked, there was always time for a balanced meal on the dinner table. It wasn’t just the nourishment that was important, it was setting the tone for a balanced way of life, making sure we always took time out of our day to spend together as a family.
My father, like most dads, has the dishes he does best. The ones that when he cooks, you know you’re home. To this day, no one can beat my father’s Steak Stewed with Tomatoes, Green Pepper and Onion (we called this Swiss Steak at home), his Chili is my favourite, his Bratwurst, Buttered Noodles and Sauerkraut is something I still crave, he would make peas, put them in milk then top it with butter and lots of black pepper (something I've learned isn't that common, but just try it and I promise you'll think it's great).
But my dad's real claim to culinary fame is his mashed potatoes.
I’ve made mashed potatoes countless times and each time I think to myself - they just don’t compare. I’ve asked my dad time and time again - ‘now how exactly do you make your mashed potatoes again?’. I’ll use the same potatoes, cook for the same amount of time, add the same amount of butter, milk and salt - but there’s something about my father’s potatoes that no one can beat. They have texture - chunks almost - but they aren’t chunky, they’re creamy and buttery, and slightly dry. They never come in contact with garlic, cheese, or anything else (he scoffs at restaurant menus when he sees potatoes coined Garlic Mashed). I like to think my father is a food purist.
Potatoes have been a thing in my family. My father has actually been trying to replicate his grandmother’s recipe for years. He claims hers were in-fact the best mashed potatoes ever - unexplainably “bone-dry" and bright yellow. He and my aunt have talked for hours about what her secret was. We’ve been fascinated with trying to replicate her potatoes (Why don't we bake them this time? Leave them on the stove after you mash them this time!) but each time he says they fall short. And each time, I think to myself “these are seriously the best mashed potatoes I’ve ever tasted”.
I’ve meticulously watched my father over decades peel potatoes, watching every step, helping cut them, boil them, and put a fork in them to see if they're ready. As I got older and found my own love of cooking, I'd be the one who would often make dinner experimenting on him with dishes like Pad Thai, French Onion Soup, or homemade Ricotta. He watches and helps and sometimes corrects my amount of spice. But one thing is for sure, if ever potatoes are part of the menu, that's his domain.
Over my life, the time spent with my father over a meal has always brought me some of my life’s best memories. Whether it was staying up late to make stuffing the night before Thanksgiving, our time in France when he was in food heaven with his French wine and French bread, when we were eating an epic German meal at a Bierhaus (over a giant beer) during Oktoberfest in Munich, or just catching up at his favourite taco joint (also with a giant beer!) in Buffalo - enjoying a meal with my dad is something nothing can beat.
Over the next week, we’ll be celebrating all things dad. Stories from our food community about times spent with their father in the kitchen warmed our heart and we’re excited to share those stories with you.
As a Father’s Day gift this year, we think there’s nothing better than to find some time in the kitchen with your dad. Those couple of hours laughing and talking together are priceless.
The Chef & The Dish Gift Certificates
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Jambalaya Cooking Class
Calling everyone who loves spice! Learn the secrets of how to make traditional Jambalaya, New Orleans Style BBQ Shrimp and Creole Crab Cakes with Chef Gason from New Orleans. This epic class is one you'll never forget.
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