CF sits down with David Rocco to dish about cooking for kids and how to live the sweet life
When it comes to food, cooking and family, David Rocco is a seasoned pro. In his latest cookbook, David Rocco’s Dolce Vita, Rocco shares some of his fondest childhood memories of Sunday family dinners and summers spent in Italy. Canadian Family caught up with the new Dad to find out his tips for making food a family affair.
You have one-year-old twin girls. What are they eating?
“We make all our own baby food, because it’s just so simple. Right now they’re eating mostly vegetables, but they’re eating rabbit as well. By giving them different textures, it makes it an interesting experience for them.”
“We eased into the whole food thing, but we wanted to get them on meat and we knew rabbit was the healthiest. It’s a nice lean, white meat and they like it. My father-in-law has a farm up north with all kinds of rabbits and they only eat green, so it’s completely organic. We mush it up in vegetable broth, and they just eat it.”
Are your girls ever picky about what they eat?
“My daughter Emma is absolutely an amazing eater, but with Giorgia, I think it’s just her personality. We don’t force her to eat anything, because at the end of the day, we don’t want her to have an association with being bribed, or that food means something negative. My mom’s approach was: “This is what we’re eating. If you don’t want to eat, then you don’t eat. I’m not going to make you another meal.”
Why do you think it’s so important to expose kids to cooking?
“Cooking is a life skill; it builds confidence. With my girls now, I bring them into the kitchen. I’ll start talking to them, and they’re just amazed and having so much fun. They touch ingredients and will put them in their mouths. Kids have to be exposed to cooking; they have to be encouraged, and then they become an asset for their family.”
We all know that you love to cook, but does your wife Nina cook as well?
“Oh yeah, she’s a good cook! I have fun cooking, so part of it is just my way of being creative and unwinding in the kitchen, but she can definitely hold her own.”
What is your best advice for making dinner more of a family affair?
“Food is about dialogue and family and discussion. Make the effort to eat as a family whenever possible and have one meal a week where you invite the extended family. As a child growing up, you’re starting a tradition. We’ve kind of gotten away from all that tradition. But food brings people together, and I don’t think you have to be a fantastic chef to do that.”
What can busy moms do to get dinner on the table fast?
“Plan! You can do soups on weekends that last through the week. And keep basic staples on hand. Our pantry has basic essentials; olive oil, different pastas, tuna, legumes and tomato puree or peeled plum tomatoes. And with that, you can make different combinations of meals. Even if our fridge is empty, a meal is always only 10 minutes away.”