Renowned Canadian chef Vikram Vij on appealing to 'picky eaters'

Renowned Canadian chef Vikram Vij on appealing to 'picky eaters'

If you're trying to get your children to eat a wider range of fresh, healthy foods, Vikram Vij has a message for you: stop calling them picky eaters.

Vij, one of the best known chefs in the country, shared some tips on cooking for and with children Friday afternoon on CBC Toronto's Here and Now. 

'Stop calling them picky eaters'

The Vancouver-based celebrity chef said he began thinking about how to appeal to picky eaters after his own experience with his daughters. 

"My older daughter hated the smell of curry," he said. "She hated everything that smelled strong. I didn't understand how I was going to change it."

"One thing I realized [was that] by calling her a picky eater, she became a picky eater," he said. "Stop calling them picky eaters because that's what kids will learn."

'Real' ingredients

Vij stressed the importance of feeding young children healthy, "real" and locally grown ingredients.

"Give them real food, real beans, real tomatoes, real chicken. Don't give them deep fried stuff," he said. "Once that processed salt gets into your palate, the chance of trying to go back to real food is very difficult."

'Involve the kids'

Vij said when it came to his daughters, he found involving them in the cooking process made them more "comfortable" with the new meals. 

Whether it was tossing tomatoes or flour in their face, he said having fun with them in the kitchen worked. 

"I would cook them these fancy meals, I never reasoned with them," he said. "Eventually, they realized I actually showed my love through food."

Vij is collaborating with meal-kit delivery company Chefs Plate to offer customers his own family's version of chicken biryani. His recipe for the dish originated when Vij was trying to come up with a nourishing dish that would appeal to his daughters when they were young girls. 

Vij describes the rice dish as "very simple but aromatic" and says it will appeal to both picky and adventurous eaters. 

The chef is also releasing a book titled Vij: A Chef's One-Way Ticket to Canada with Indian Spices in His Suitcase.

The book is about his at times tumultuous journey to becoming an internationally acclaimed chef.

"I wanted to tell people success is not a pill you take in the morning or evening," he said. "You must remember sheer hard work and effort makes you successful."