School kicks off this week, and the Cheap Bastard's column listing helpful tips for packing lunches made me wonder how local chefs arm their kids for cafeteria trades. You'd think these kids, blessed with master cooks for parents, would end up with foie gras -- or at least some choice leftovers from their parents' last dinner service.
"If I do pasta the night before school I'll send something like that with him," says Jon Stevens, executive chef at Nosh Euro Bistro. But most days he keeps things simple. While ham and turkey sandwiches may get kicked up with some homemade mayonnaise, Stevens can't cave to his child's ultimate craving. "My kid loves sushi, man," the chef says, but banging out a bento box after getting off work late at night isn't at the front of his mind. Still, the chef never forgets an imperative finishing touch, "I always cut the crusts off."
Brian Luscher at The Grape keeps things simple too. When I asked him what he packs for his daughter Landry, he responded honestly, "Exactly what she wants me to." Peanut butter and jelly is the main request. When Luscher tried to sneak in some local organic peaches, they returned uneaten at the end of the day. Apparently, fresh fruit still has little pull on the elementary school cafeteria trading floor.
At my school, Twinkies were king. You could get a whole sandwich for a Zebra Cake, and Fruit Roll-Ups had some trade power. For whatever reason, oatmeal cream pies were less popular, just above a shiny red apple. But it was the kid with the stinky egg-salad sandwich we felt for the most. Forget trading lunch items. That kid couldn't even find a seat.
What's in your kid's lunch box?