As a chef, food is my life and the best thing about life, food. Sadly, it seems everyone is just too busy these days and as a result, food tragically gets shortchanged.
From my perspective, many children today don’t know the pleasure of real food. Every bite they take needs to be coated in sugar, or be crazy salty. Everything seems to be a vehicle to eat ketchup or ranch dressing. Easy meals for busy people. It’s easy to feed people badly. Cheap and easy. Every bite of over-the-top, fat laden pizza seems to be one bite closer to a half a box of Nutty bars for dessert. Boxes of “stuff” that now replace home baking are, unfortunately, the norm. The thought becomes: What kind of villain puts artichokes on my plate? Vegetables, no thank you.
I could go on…
My children grew up with home cooked meals everyday. I know because after, or many times before, my LONG shifts at restaurant X or hotel Y, I came home and cooked. That’s right, planned ahead, prepped and cooked. All the time. They knew nothing else but to have dad prepare food for them.
They also didn’t know, as a result, they were eating differently than a lot of their peers. They topped their own pizza with vegetables they picked from the family garden. They would help find the bruised tomatoes that were perfect for the sauce. While the juxtaposition of cauliflower on pizza seems striking, it just wasn’t to them. It was a sweet, tasty treat made better with a little browning ahead of time. Their idea of pepperoni? That was a special treat! And at most, they got it,maybe, twice a year.
They became accustomed to seeing a weird vegetable or two on their dinner plate. Some they liked, some they didn’t. Over many years, my kids have been exposed to almost every imaginable vegetable on the planet, many grown in their own backyard, and as a result they have preferences based on experience. With so much exposure, their preferences were vast and their individual dislikes were few. It didn’t matter to me if Britt wanted cauliflower and didn’t care for red onions. There were so many to choose from on their “like” list an that their “dislike” list seemed small by comparison.
With a father as a chef, they never even saw a gram of exterior fat on a piece of beef, lamb, or chicken. They never saw a saltshaker. They never saw a sugar bowl. Their food tasted good… that’s all they cared about.
Here I am in a brand new role as the Chef at Hannaford Corporate offices. A thousand hungry adults; and we are here providing meals and sundries for all. The road traveled to this point has been long and arduous, but along the way I’ve realized that food preparation needs purpose beyond collecting dollars. Just like the purpose it had feeding my own family.
Thomas Sheehan is an Executive Chef for Eurest and Manager of the Hannaford Cafe. Tommy graduated from University of New Hampshire and got his culinary training from the Culinary Institute of America (CIA). He has held executive chef positions throughout New England since 1986. Before coming to the Hannaford Cafe he was the corporate chef at LL Bean, and St Joseph’s College. When he’s not in the kitchen, Tommy can be found hunting, fishing, or rooting for the Boston Red Sox.