Cooking for dad

Father's Day is fast approaching, and they say that the fastest way to a man's heart is through his tummy, so cooking seems like a good idea, don't you think? What does your dad like to eat? Does he like to cook?

Taking mom for brunch or for dinner on Mother's Day is the obvious choice for many families... But wait!  Most dads get cooked for all the time, so what's so special about that? Since the dad in our family is a chef, I'm going to speak up for the minority.

Would you believe that it's easy to cook for a chef? I bet not. But the simple fact is, they hardly get a day off from cooking. Many chefs cook for their families on their days off work, and while many do it out of passion, everyone likes to put their feet up now and again.

What do chefs eat? Good question. Many of them taste a lot of fancy food, but most enjoy a good burger or pasta dish too — just like many winemakers I know enjoy a good beer. My husband's favourite homemade birthday meal is spaghetti and meatballs — no kidding, especially if he doesn't have to cook it.

The key, like any meal, is to know your audience. Since cooking is their expertise, don't try something you aren't really comfortable cooking. Put your best foot (your best spatula?) forward.

If you know your roast chicken is something you have mastered and your mashed potatoes. veggie dish or homemade salad dressing is perfect every time, that's what you show off.

Executing the meal with confidence is what will impress such a knowledgeable audience, much more than attempting a spiffy dish like a soufflé and having it fall flat — literally.

Have you ever heard the proverb, "Anything worth doing is worth doing well"? Doesn't that sound like something a father would say? Doing the best you can with the skills you have is all anyone can expect, and any role model would be proud of such an effort.

Whether your dad's day project is cooking (like mine) or making something or even just finding the right card or remembering to call, put your heart into it and dad or grampa or whomever will know.

My recipe for you this week is one that I used to enjoy with my dad. One of my favourite adult father-daughter memories was the Friday nights we spent cooking and eating when we both lived in Vancouver. It's been a bunch of Father's Days since he's been around to share a meal with, but I still smile whenever I make this.


This is all about stepping outside the comfort zone; no ordinary spaghetti and meatballs here. In case your comfort zone is small, check out my Happy Gourmand recipe archives for less adventurous alternatives.

The original recipe called for spaghetti as the pasta, but daddy and I used to like fusilli or campanelle. Fresh ingredients are key; don't substitute dried herbs, cheese from a container or concentrated orange juice.

  • 1/4 cup / 65 g butter
  • finely grated zest of 2 oranges
  • 20 Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • juice from 1 orange (about 1/3 cup/85 mL)
  • Lots of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup/a large handful of fresh basil leaves (and flowers, if you have them), chopped
  • 1/4 cup/65 g freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 Italian sausages, cooked (optional if you feel you need a "meaty" dish)

Cook sausages if you're using them. Drain on paper towel, chop into bite-size pieces and set aside. Meanwhile, cook pasta to al dente ("just done" — you will be reheating it in the pan with the sauce). Drain and set aside.

Make sure you have warm plates ready. (Cold plates will cool off the pasta quickly; rinse them under hot water or warm them in the oven at 200F/90C.)

Melt butter in a medium skillet. Add orange zest, olives and garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add orange juice and enough pepper to taste it. Let it cook for another minute. Toss with hot pasta — and sausage if you're using it  — then add basil and Parmesan and toss again. Serve immediately. 

More Happy Gourmand articles

About the Author

Kristin Peturson-Laprise is a customer experience specialist by trade, which means she is someone passionate about people having a good time. 

Her company, Wow Service Mentor, helps businesses enhance their customer experience through hands-on training, service programs, and special event coordination.

Kristin enjoys her own experiences too, and that is what she writes about in this column. She and her husband Martin Laprise (also known as Chef Martin, of The Chef Instead) love to share their passion for food and entertaining.  

Kristin says:

"Wikipedia lists a gourmand as a person who takes great pleasure in food. I have taken the concept of gourmandise, or enjoying something to the fullest, in all parts of my life. I love to grow and cook food, and I loved wine enough to become a Sommelier. I call a meal a success when I can convey that 'sense of place' from where the food has come . . . the French call that terroir, but I just call it the full experience. It might mean tasting the flavours of my own garden, or transporting everyone at the table to a faraway place, reminiscent of travels or dreams we have had."


E-mail Kristin at:  [email protected]

Check out her website here:  www.wowservicementor.com


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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