Kitchen Kindergarten



I love the cooking section in the Sunday New York Times Magazine, as much for the writing as for the recipes. So it was more than a little alarming to turn to my favorite page recently and find the first installment of Cooking With Dexter, the painfully clueless parental chirpings of the Times’ food editor Pete Wells. You see, his four-year-old son Dexter is a naturally gifted chef, a kitchen whiz kid. Don’t buy it? Neither do I.

Every parent thinks his firstborn is amazing, possessing special powers far beyond those of mere mortal children. I’m sure the magazine would have found space for this page even if Wells didn’t happen to be the Times’ food editor. Cough, cough.

It’s disappointing when this kind of indulgent feature replaces a page describing fantastic ingredients prepared by a talented chef. Not necessarily a professional chef, but someone whose palate and experience warrant the exposure in a magazine, whose recipes and ideas will inspire. I’m just not that interested in Dexter’s adorably tedious experiments with tiny grindings of coffee beans and miniscule vegetables. Reading about them felt very much like listening patiently to a relative boasting about how his kid won the spelling bee. Will you excuse me for just a minute? I’ll be right back.

A reader named Mark Robertson wrote in to the Times a couple of weeks later to say, “My reaction to your “4-year-old foodie” reminded me of Dorothy Parker’s reaction to “The House at Pooh Corner”: “Tonstant Weader fwowed up.” Exactly.

Check out this excellent post on for more on the topic.


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