The Littlest Foodies

Foodism has hit the pre-kindergarten set, The New York Times reports (registration required). That grown-up gastronomes are producing offspring with a taste for sushi and stinky cheese is no secret, but apparently now a growing number of restaurants and recreational cooking schools are catering to the tiniest of these tots, offering child-size portions and kid-friendly cooking classes for kids as young as 2 1/2. A culinary center in Texas teaches toddlers how to make finger sandwiches, and five-year-olds in New York’s celeb-chef-centric meatpacking district knead pizza dough with yeast pebbles and sea salt before topping with pungent Gruyère.

As Sunday Style pieces go, this article has a high concentration of funny quotes, particularly from Chef Eric Ripert of New York’s four-star Le Bernardin:

[Ripert] thinks his dress code helps keep children in line. ‘They have a tie, so they are almost strangled already,’ he said. ‘They don’t move much.’

Of course there are exceptions: On a birthday trip to Blue Hill at Stone Barns last year, I was seated a table away from a suit-wearing six-year-old, who seemed to be enjoying the food. But about halfway through the meal, he freaked out and run into the garden, shortly after telling his mom she needed a facial and then crying loudly, “I don’t want to go to prep school!” Clearly his palate had developed more quickly than his ability to detect irony.

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