PHOENIX - Kids can be picky eaters, making dinnertime difficult for parents.
Now, a well-known Valley chef is hoping to inspire parents and educate them on how to create healthier households - with the kids being fully onboard.
Chef Aaron Chamberlin of Taco Chelo has been cooking and feeding people for dozens of years at many of his popular restaurants around the Valley.
However, his own kitchen is where the food matters most. His sous chefs: 6-year-old Arturo, 4-year-old Shaffer and 1-year-old Charlie.
The kids all started cooking at the age of one.
"This is my time to spend with them and bond," Chamberlin said. "To me, there is no more value and love than nourishing my children."
The children help cook almost every meal to keep them interested and to keep their skills sharp.
"We have a wide variety of knives," Chamberlin said. "I start with a knife that’s made from wood. So Charlie soon will get that knife and start playing with it. It couldn’t cut him at all. Then I just move them up [with] their knife. I work with them. I show them knifing skills."
When Chamberlain and his wife started having kids, they knew they wanted to enable them to be self-sufficient.
"I’m so shocked at how many kids right now are so amazing on a computer, but they have no clue how to nourish themselves, and I see this over and over and over," the chef said. "I think it’s one of the most important skills you can have is to be able to cook for yourself and and to cook for other people."
His kids are not only cooking their own food with vegetables, no processed foods or sugar included - and they actually enjoy it. They even crave it.
Chamberlain says this is possible for all families, but starting small and setting a plan is the first step.
"It takes a long time for them to develop a palate, so if you give your child broccoli, for example, one time and they don’t like it, you have to think that you’re going to have to give that to them over 20 times before they might like it," he explained. "I’m constantly rotating and trying new things so they don’t get stuck in this one category."
Most importantly, one has to lead by example.
"I tell parents…kids watch what you do," Chamberlain said. "So the best thing you can do is improve your own diet. If you improve your own diet and they’re watching you eat broccoli…my wife eats a salad every day. My kids watch that and they just assume we eat salad every day.
"You can't separate their food," he continued. "We never make their food and our food. We just make food."
Chamberlain says this will teach lifelong skills and habits for a happier, healthier family.
"I think people make it overcomplicated," he said. "It is a lot of work. It’s planning, it’s organization, but I know it’s well worth it and I can see that in my kids everyday."
Chef Chamberlain's Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/aaron_chamberlin
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