Restaurant News & Reviews

These Miami chefs are celebrating Father’s Day in the kitchen with their kids

Chef Dustin Ward with daughters (left-to-right) Dahlia, Remi and Caden spend family time in the kitchen.
Chef Dustin Ward with daughters (left-to-right) Dahlia, Remi and Caden spend family time in the kitchen. Handout

This Father’s Day weekend, a trio of Miami chefs will be spending time in the kitchen with their kids, but that’s a regular occurrence in their households.

That’s because cooking with Dad is something they all love to do and naturally, it’s something all these chefs love, too.

Jim Pastor, executive chef at the Rusty Pelican, Daniel Serfer, owner and executive chef at Blue Collar and Mignonette, and Dustin Ward, chef de cuisine at BLT Prime, all shared heartwarming and humorous stories about their time in the kitchen with their budding chefs.

Jim Pastor with daughter Sophia

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Jim Pastor with daughter Sophia Handout

How often do you cook with your daughter at home?

Pastor: I have one daughter and her name is Sophia. She’s 4. We try and cook three to four times a week, but sometimes with my chaotic schedule we lose a few dinners.

How do you bond with her while cooking together?

Pastor: Cooking with her can be a challenge at times because she is fearless. She’s not scared to get her hands dirty, and that’s a trait that you look for in any sous chef.

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Sophia Pastor helps her father, Jim, executive chef at the Rusty Pelican, make pasta at home.

Does Sophia spend any time with you in the restaurant?

Pastor: She loves to come to “daddy’s work” and have dinner, but she always makes it a point to go and say hi to all the cooks, like a true leader.

When did she first show an interest in being in the kitchen with you, and will you be spending time with her in the kitchen for Father's Day?

Pastor: It started about eight months ago when she wanted to watch me cook. As I was prepping, she started asking questions and it took off from there. We celebrate Father’s Day the weekend before, so hopefully I won’t be doing too much cooking. But I know she will definitely get involved in the process. She loves to make fresh pasta.

Danny Serfer with son Henry and daughter Charlie

Danny Serfer with son Henry and daughter Charlie.

What special moments have you shared with your kids during Father's Day in the kitchen?

Serfer: We recently moved to a house that has more of an open concept. With that, the kids seem to be far more interested in what I’m doing in there than before, even when their cartoons are on. As they are getting older, too (Henry, my son, is 3, and Charlie, my daughter is closer to 2), they are more capable and help like crack eggs, stir things and watch me cut stuff. This weekend we made ragu Bolognese together, which was an eight hour process, and it was kind of like our Father’s Day at our house since actual Father’s Day will be spent at my in-laws grilling. While there, I will start to show Henry how to grill stuff. I think since he is so young, but at the cool age where he actually learns stuff, it is neat for him to see us cook something and then eat it and feel like it tastes better because of it. One of the greatest moments of my life was this past weekend while I was getting the salad ready for dinner and he was tossing the bread to make the croutons and he said “Daddy I love you. You’re my best friend.”

What is their favorite part of being in the kitchen with you? What special meals have you prepared with them and how do they like to assist?

Serfer: I think they just like being there doing something with me that they sense is very special to me. The ragu Bolognese was a pretty special thing to make since it took so long and then we actually ate it the next day.

Dustin Ward and daughters Dahlia, Remi and Caden

Chef Dustin Ward with daughters (left-to-right) Dahlia, Remi and Caden spend family time in the kitchen. Handout

When do you spend time in the kitchen with your daughters?

Ward: For all major holidays, I cook with my three daughters who enjoy being my special helpers. One of my favorite memories is when my oldest daughter, Dahlia, who is 9, made pasta from scratch for the very first time. After watching me do it, and then helping, finally she asked if she could do it herself. And she did! From making the pasta, rolling it out, and even using the attachment to make it into fettuccini. Remi, my middle child who is 6, has a love for pastries, most likely inherited from her mom who is a pastry chef. So once a week, she goes through my cook books at home and picks the "dessert of the week" which we create from start to finish. She does all the measuring and mixing, but most importantly she is my quality checker.

Caden, who is the youngest at 5, loves to make pizza from scratch — especially when she gets to pick the tomatoes and herbs from our garden for the sauce.

Will you be cooking with them this Father's Day? What do you think you'll be making?

Ward: Yes! We are planning on making a big breakfast of pancakes, frittata, bacon, sausage and breakfast potatoes together.

How do they like to help you and do you see they have special skills in the kitchen?

Ward: They are different in the ways they help, mainly due to age. Dahlia definitely has a talent for doughs, and knows the different types and techniques depending on what we are making. She also has an eye for detail and decorating the finished product. Remi helps with the measuring and mixing, but also stretching dough and shaping. Caden is still young so she helps with mainly mixing, pouring, cracking eggs, and tasting.

What about special memories from the past in the kitchen with them?

Ward: One of my favorite kitchen memories is the time Caden was a baby and she spilled a bag of flour all over the kitchen and herself, and she ran through the house, (tracking) flour everywhere. There was also the time we made soda from scratch, not using a machine but natural carbonation, which led to a few explosions and the ceiling looking like a rainbow from all the different colored flavorings we were using.

My all-time favorite memory would have to be this past Christmas. Instead of playing with their new toys, all three just wanted to be in the kitchen with me, making our family dinner. They would not leave my side until I said there was nothing left to do except wait for dinner to cook and Dahlia looked at me and said, “That’s not true Daddy. There is always something to do! I hear you say that all the time!” As stunned as I was to hear that I could not argue, because she was right. We had dishes and cleaning to do! She’s definitely starting to take after me.