Photo by Con Poulos
It’s not easy cooking for kids of any age. Even more daunting is having to please not only picky palates, but also Michelin-starred chef Gordon Ramsay. He’s the king of turning home cooks into restaurant-ready chefs on his show MasterChef, which is how 14 contestants found themselves creating 40 plates of food for a dining room full of kids. While this and other challenges mimic what moms face every day (few ingredients, chicken and potatoes), the results are anything but ordinary.
Cast-Iron-Seared Filet Mignon with Potato and Butternut Squash Puree, Broccolini and Parmesan Tuile
Photo by Con Poulos
Divide and conquer
Since you don’t have a team of seven and an hour and a half to prep and cook dinner, try making only one component of this meal (like the potato puree or the broccolini) and serving alongside your go-to main.
Plate like a master
Place flavor-packed purees (like this butternut squash version) in a squeeze bottle. Or put puree in a large resealable bag and snip off a small corner. Decorate the plate as desired.
For a true restaurant-quality experience, warm your plates in a low oven before adding food.
Since kids usually want their meat more well-done, you’ll want to rely on this restaurant technique. For steaks tailored to the tastes of your family (because, of course, no one likes their meat done the same way!), finish them in the oven. After pan-searing steaks on the stovetop—we recommend a cast-iron skillet—transfer them, skillet and all, to a 425° oven. For medium-rare, roast steaks for about 4 min. For medium, opt for more like 5 to 7 min, and for medium-well, go for 8 to 10 min. Let steaks rest at least 3 min before slicing into them (this helps the meat stay juicy). The temp should either stay constant or continue to rise a few degrees.
Take a temp
The most accurate way to gauge doneness is by using an instant-read thermometer. The USDA recommends 145° for safety purposes, but chefs usually opt for slightly lower temps:
- Rare 120°-125°
- Medium-rare 130°-135°
- Medium 140°
- Medium-well 150°
- Well-done 155°
This slender cousin to traditional broccoli has only been around for about 20 years. It was created in Japan when farmers cross-pollinated broccoli with Chinese broccoli. All of its long, thin stem is edible.
Dinner dos and don’ts
Have your kids help with meal preparation—they’ll be more likely to eat it if they made it themselves.
You don’t need to dumb down food for kids. “Listen, they’re not babies. We don’t need ridiculous smiley faces on the plate,” says Ramsay.
Photo courtesy of MasterChef
Sales Manager, Chicago, IL
This Windy City native (and Cubs fan) is a sales manager and has been cooking since she was 10 years old. She excels at Italian food and pastries, and her mentor on the show is chef Aarón Sánchez. Her calm manner in delegating tasks and assigning components to particular teammates meant the challenge went smoothly from ideation to plating. This was her second win as a team captain.
Professional Grocery Shopper, Opa-locka, FL
Her go-to ingredient is mojo, a Cuban citrus, garlic and herb sauce.
Sales Specialist, Houston, TX
Loves baking bread and making pasta from scratch.
Fourth-Year Dental Student, Chicago, IL
Wants to show America a new side of Indian food.
Senior Accountant, Houston, TX
Enjoys mixing Mediterranean and Southeast Asian cuisines.
Event Promoter, Miami, FL
Not afraid to attempt impossible dishes and add her own twists.
Sales Training Director, Houston, TX
Loves making comfort food with a Colombian/Texan flair!