Nanny in NYC

A modern day Mary Poppins

Sunday, March 26, 2006

More Cooks & Kids

One of my favorite Brooklyn restaurants is Applewood on 11th Street at 7th Ave. in Park Slope. It's a really sweet space and the food is consistently good. (Although, to be honest, not everything has been great, but atmosphere really plays a part, especially in winter when you can come in from the cold and eat in front of a roaring fire.) It's owned and operated by Laura and David Shea with the "help" of their two young daughters.
The Shea's are devotees of the Slow Food movement, which means all the produce they serve is grown on self-sustaining farms outside the city, all the fish is wild, and all the meat is hormone- and antibiotic-free..

The number one thing that appeals to me about Applewood (other than the fireplace, oh, and the apple puree champagne cocktails) is that the Shea's two girls are such a presence at the restaurant. I really love the idea of growing up in a (mildly) alternative space. For example, I have a friend who grew up on a commune and another who was the daughter of a minister & made a huge gothic church her playroom. Having had the most generic of childhoods I'm kind of envious of these unique situations. When the Shea family began tossing around the idea of starting their own restaurant
Laura could initially only see the negatives for their young kids: the crazy hours, absentee parents, and few chances for family meals. Not anymore. "I've discovered there probably isn't a more nurturing environment to grow up in than a place filled with the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of food," says Laura, who wore her youngest in a sling every night on the job until the baby was almost 8 months old. "The restaurant is like a first home to our kids because we're here so much, and the staff is like a second family. Now we always tell people it takes a restaurant to raise a child."

Check out this article which profiles the Shea's and other parent/chefs such as Todd English and Michael Chiarello and offers up a lot of their tips for expanding your children's food horizons. (Most of the advice is a bit impractical for busy parents, but there are a few gems.)


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