Local foodies Leo and Soren Westrey share more than a birthday. The nine-year-old twin brothers have been sharing plates of "grown-up" food in Portland since they were toddlers, and now co-author KidChowPDX, a blog aimed at helping other kids think beyond the chicken nugget.
The blog is more than a listing of kid-friendly restaurants in the area—in fact, many spots they review aren't aimed at attracting a very young audience.
Instead, it's a food manifesto, focusing on good flavors, good seasonings, and respect for the people who grow, cook, and serve their meals.
Above all, they want to herald the end of the kid's menu status quo.
Here are the KidChowPDX top 5 Kid's Menu tips for restaurants looking to woo the next generation of Portland diners:
- We want restaurants to avoid processed foods and bad ingredients. Chicken Nuggets are not food! No matter how you try to describe them, they are not food. Don’t try to fool us with this chicken nugget stuff. Kids will prefer fresh, tasty dishes with real ingredients.
- We hate when flavors are too basic and bland, without any good seasonings (or worse, none at all). Kids can like all foods if they are exposed to them early, and well-seasoned, fresh foods can destroy the idea that kids need things to be boring.
- We don't like plastic cups and straws, because they are insulting and they go into a dump.
- We can't stand dishes with too much salt. And we really like salt, so that's saying something.
- Bottom line: just give young diners the adult menu in addition to the kids menu, and let us choose.
So how did Leo and Soren's parents raise such sophisticated palates? Mom Amy Wesselman (executive director of the International Pinot Noir Celebration and co-owner of Westrey Wines with husband David Westrey) shares her secrets:
"We just exposed them to it from the get go. When Leo was still a baby, he was quite anemic. The Portland chef community took it upon themselves to feed him as much foie gras as he could eat (the perfect baby food, really) and 6 months later his pediatrician said that in 30 years of practice, she had never seen a baby's iron level come up so fast."
"We also let them cook their own food from an early age. They went through several stages of binging on new things: weird-looking squashes, leeks, lemons…you name it. We just let them go where their palates took them and sucked it up when it came to paying for their expensive eating habits, knowing it would pay off. As a friend put it: 'Are they asking for McDonalds? Are they asking for juice boxes? No? Then shut up!'"