Baby Food Offerings and Children’s Menus at Hotels
I had the pleasure of chatting with Alain Ducasse on the kinds of dishes one should offer children. He has just recently published a book « nature, simple, sain et bon » (Natural, Simple, Healthy, and Good) which offers a wealth of easy recipes to prepare for children, with the help of Paule Neyrat and Jérôme Lacressonnière.
Jérôme started out in France at Georges Blanc in Vonnas, and his career carried him to Louis XV in Monaco, followed by the Ritz in Paris. Jérôme was then appointed as chef of the Consulate General of France in Hong Kong before joining Alain Ducasse’s restaurant 59 Raymond Poincaré in Paris in 2000, after which he left for New York to join the restaurant Alain Ducasse at the Essex House. In 2004, he became Executive Chef of the restaurant Beige Alain Ducasse Tokyo in Japon and finally settled at Alain Ducasse Education in Argenteuil in 2010 as chef trainer and consultant.
Restaurant offerings for children at hotels open up a very important topic. Luxury hotels must be able to offer a selection of children’s’ items at a quality that matches those offered to adults. Yet, far too often, the offerings available for children is meager at best and lacking in thought.
Below Jérôme Lacressonnière sheds some light on the subject and shares with us his experience.
What are the pitfalls to avoid when designing menus for children?
Dishes that are too salty, too sugary, and high in fat should be avoided because as both a chef and a father, we carry the responsibility toward our clients of respecting our children’s need for balanced diets.
What are the bare essentials that one should offer in a restaurant?
I chose this profession to bring pleasure, to share, and finally pass on, so I think that chefs today should consider children in the restaurant setting as no less than clients themselves. They should therefore not be afraid to offer the same dishes of fish, meat, vegetables that they offer to parents, but transposed in a cuisine that is simple, not too excessive in terms of ingredients, without embellishments, without too many spices, and featuring a well-adjusted balance, all while bringing a particular attention to the presentation; a playful touch will make the dish even more welcoming to the eyes of the young clients.
What are the best experiences that you’ve had with your own children in a hotel restaurant?
We are just beginning to do away with the diaper with our small daughter Lucie, who’s just turned three a few months back, and so to be honest, we haven’t had many occasions to go to hotel restaurants with our daughters Lucie et Matilda. But nonetheless, I do have a story to share with you. The best experience that we shared as a family with our children was at La Villa in Calvi in Corsica, and talk about an unforgettable memory! Because that day, we decided to try out a hotel restaurant to stop by to say hi to Mr. Jean-Pierre Pinelli, the owner of the property, who was occupied at the time with his clients. While we were waiting, my wife and I decided to have a drink before going to dinner and order grenadine drinks for the girls in order to commemorate our last evening of vacation in Corsica. So we did a small ‘kampai’ (Japanese toast) as a family, and due to the girls’ uncontrolled force in toasting the glasses, everything flew in the air with the grenadine splashing everywhere. We returned straight away to our room, a bit upset and rather embarrassed! So then we ordered dinner to have in the room, and when it arrived for the girls, everything was arranged so that they could enjoy a wonderful time with dishes that were savory and adjusted to please the tastes of our children. We found it to be a highly professional touch. A very touching memory!
How should things be arranged to offer dishes for younger children?
Today’s restaurant staff should be aware that bringing special attention to children, especially of younger ages, remains a major bonus among the parents. Offering a specialized and balanced menu will only encourage parents to come back.
Is it challenging in terms of the organization of the kitchen staff?
No, it’s not even really all that complicated! I think the key is to maximize the use of good products already present on the menu while keeping in place a good system of organization that is simple and efficient. Children are just as much clients as their parents, and one day they’ll be the clients of the future….
About the book Nature Bébés:
- Published by Alain Ducasse Edition
- Authors: Alain Ducasse, Paule Neyrat, and Jérôme Lacressonière
- Photography: Rina Nurra
- Design: Lissa Streeter
Available in bookstores from 15€ and on iBookstore from 4,99€
Laurent Delporte, an editor and conference speaker, is a strategic expert in the sector of hotels. A visionary, he brings his unique look on hotels in service to the decision-makers in the industry, whether to enhance the development of new projects or strategic visions.
Laurent has visited and audited over 350 hotels across the world and also participates in mystery visits to provide quality control for the world’s finest hotels.