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A professional chef’s top tips for cooking at home with kids

Chef Nicolay Adinaguev of Diplomat Prime in Hollywood. A father of two, he likes to cook with and for his kids when he's off the clock.
Chef Nicolay Adinaguev of Diplomat Prime in Hollywood. A father of two, he likes to cook with and for his kids when he's off the clock.

When chef Nicolay Adinaguev of Diplomat Prime in Hollywood isn’t cooking drop-dead-gorgeous steaks and truffle whipped potatoes at work, he’s usually cooking with his kids — or for his kids — at home. Incorporating them into his kitchen world at an early age — Adinaguev has two sons: Ezra, 5, and Cyrus, 1 — has helped expose them to a world of flavors and cultures.

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Ezra and Nicolay Adinaguev making pizza at home. Photograph courtesy of Nicolay Adinaguev.

“Ever since Ezra was 2 1/2, we have made food together,” Adinaguev said. “Everything from pancakes and scrambled eggs to pizza parties and grilling outside. Cyrus is still feeling it out, but Ezra now knows the names of dishes and ingredients from so many cultures, not just his own.

“Food is a celebration of life, so it’s fun to see your little ones absorb that.”

“I also credit that to the fact that his mother and I have always taken him to casual ethnic restaurants rather than fancy or trendy places. Maybe it’s the immigrant mentality we share, but food is a celebration of life, so it’s fun to see your little ones absorb that.”

Adinaguev’s wife is of Persian descent, and he is Jewish with roots in Eastern Europe and Peru. “We try to teach our kids about their heritage through food,” he said. “This is very important to my wife and me.”

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Ezra approves of his pancakes. Photograph courtesy of Nicolay Adinaguev.

Chef Nicolay Adinaguev’s Tips for Cooking with Kids

  1. Have all of your ingredients ready. “Kids lose interest quickly, so you want to make it fast and enjoyable.”
  2. Use tools you don’t mind getting banged up. “Set yourself up with items made of rubber or other materials that can endure a beating.”
  3. Make two recipes at the same time. “One for the kids to mix up and play with, and one that you know was executed correctly so it comes out as you and your child envisioned it.”
  4. Have patience. “They’re going to make a mess. Let them.”
  5. Keep it fun. “It’s all about fun in the kitchen. As they get older, you can coach them on technique, but at a younger age they are are engaged by the adventure of cooking than the outcome. So if someone burns a grilled cheese or makes a lopsided pizza, just laugh it off and move on to the next dish.”

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