A glimpse at the culinary tricks these pro chefs utilise to ensure sure that their kids eat well.

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If you think head chefs only have to contend with picky guests at work, think again.

Their toughest critics are, in fact, at home, waiting impatiently for them to whip up something that will thrill their tastebuds. And just because these guys have enjoyed good food their entire lives doesn’t mean that they’ll automatically accept everything that dad puts on their plates either ― they are kids after all!

SmartParents quizzes well-known culinary whizzes ― and dads ― on what they feed their finicky little eaters. Scroll through the photo gallery to find out their trade secrets. 

Chef Bobby Krishnan

At work he’s known for incorporating Indian, Western, Malay and Thai flavours into his dishes. So, it comes as no surprise that Shangri-La's Rasa Sentosa Resort & Spa’s executive chef does the same at home.

“My children love local cuisine, especially chicken rice and lamb curry. And they will never say no to my lamb rendang with fragrant pandan rice,” says the father of four, whose kids are aged 8, 13, 16 and 17.

No doubt local cuisine is yummy, but isn’t always the healthiest. So, how does Krishnan, 42, make sure his offspring don’t compromise on nutrition while indulging in good eats?

“I always ensure there is healthy and nutritious food and snacks in the house. Additionally, I try to lead by example, by eating healthily and encouraging them to do likewise. Whenever possible, I prepare all their meals and ensure they are well-balanced.” (Photo: Bobby Krishnan)

Chef Mervyn Phan

If anyone knows a thing or two about what kids like to eat, it’s Phan. After all he made it his business when he started Cookyn Inc, a private cooking school, as well as a family-friendly bistro Grub.

“Gerald is 4 years old and Elliot is 9 and they both love pizza, pasta and fried chicken wings,” the doting dad says. Another dish the boys will gobble down is pasta carbonara, because of all that bacon, cheesy goodness. However, it’s another story when it comes to veggies. Ever ingenious, Phan addresses this issue with several innovative ideas.

“We let them eat a variety of fruits and experiment with new recipes. Our broccoli and chicken nuggets were a hit,” he says. So, what’s this chef’s top tip to tackle picky eaters? “Never stop letting them try new foods. You might be surprised. Our 4-year-old loves jambu and durian!” (Photo: Amanda Phan)

Chef Russell Misso

Homegrown talent Misso has honed his decade-old culinary skills in many well-renowned local kitchens, including the Shangri-La, Fullerton and the Michelin-starred Joël Robuchon Restaurant at Resorts World Sentosa.

Now a head chef at Open Farm Community, the 30-year-old’s biggest challenge is to make sure his 6-year-old daughter Mikaela hits her daily fruit and veggie intake. “Mikaela loves plain old prata for breakfast. Some of her other favourite dishes include chicken rice, fried chicken with broccoli and minced pork noodle soup. And she never says no to anything with chocolate,” says Misso.

However, getting her to accept greens is another story. Not one to give up, clever daddy came up with the perfect plan to make sure his little girl eats healthfully. “I usually tell her that all the Disney princess characters eat their vegetables and fruits, and that’s why they look so pretty!” (Photo: Russell Misso)

Chef Daniel Tay

Having teenagers in the house means you have less of an influence over what they eat, says Singapore’s celebrity pastry chef who is dad to Jayden, 9, Russell, 13, and Darryl, 17. Best known for spearheading premium online cheesecake shop Cat & the Fiddle, Tay, 47, and his wife do their best to advocate eating fresh as much as possible with their boys.

“This is one of the reasons why I place a lot of importance on homecooked meals,” he notes. The boys can never get enough of their dad’s black pepper crab and seafood pasta, a simple tomato-based pasta filled with clams, squid, prawns and fish. “I love cooking this for them and they are still a hit in my household.”

Simple dishes are the best in Tay’s books because what matters most to him is the effort that goes into making it. “Russell learned to make papaya soup in his home economics class some time ago and he made it for me and I loved it! It was the simplest of dishes, but cooked with love.” (Photo: Daniel Tay)

Chef Diego Jacquet

When boCHINche’s chef patron is your dad, the only thing better than enjoying his gourmet cooking is learning how to make the dishes yourself. That’s exactly what Jacquet’s 6-year-old son, Thomas, did recently with daddy’s sausage and mash recipe.

“Ever since he mastered making sausages from scratch, he’s now getting more and more creative, even suggesting unique combinations such as pork and quince,” says the 41-year-old Argentinian.

Just like her brother, Jacquet’s 2-year-old daughter Catalina is also a big fan of meats. “They love pasta, meatballs, rice dishes and anything with dulce de leche [slow-heated sweet milk].” But like with most kids, it’s always a challenge to get the kiddos to eat their fruits and veggies.

This crafty daddy has worked his way around it though, by concocting fun, fresh juices such as carrot, apple and pear or grapes, yoghurt and celery. “I also love making lasagnas for my kids. Coming from a meat-heavy culture, it’s the only dish where I can add plenty of vegetables without them complaining.” (Photo: Diego Jacquet)

Chef S R Bala

This 42-year-old is a world- accredited judge for cooking competitions, president of the Indian Chefs and Culinary Association, and the brain behind catering company Empire Cuisine.

Despite the accolades he has achieved and his ability to cook up a storm, it’s Bala’s family fish dum biryanithat keeps his 11-year-old daughter and 14-year-old son begging for seconds.

“They are not choosy, they love eating good food,” Bala notes. “I have taught them to appreciate good food and refrain from eating preserved food.” Looks like healthy eating habits aren’t the only thing the chef has passed on to his kiddos.

His passion for cooking has also rubbed off on them. “My kids are able to prepare a good sandwich for me, especially my son, since he is a bread freak. My daughter loves to bake,” the proud papa adds. (Photo: SR Bala)