Greg Johnson, a Seattle-based chef, filmmaker and father of two, was faced with a new cooking challenge when his first daughter, Finnley, turned 6-months-old: How to prepare fresh, organic solid food for his little one. Nothing gave him greater satisfaction than when Finnley took her first bite of the mashed yams he prepared and seemed to enjoy it. Johnson was hooked and started crafting fun and healthful ways to cook for kids and, more importantly, new techniques to make it easy on parents.
To share those ideas, Johnson worked with his business partners Adam Wood and Nels Walby to produce a DVD called Chef and Father. In the film, Johnson takes an informative, yet relaxed approach to teaching parents how to prepare homemade, all-natural toddler and baby-tested favorites in minutes, as well as wholesome meals that appeal to the entire family.
"I am all about ingredients and easy cooking techniques that anyone can do," he shares.
A fixture at Seattle's farmers' markets, Johnson likes to cook what's in season. "I feel much better knowing the zucchini I am about to serve my family came from just an hour away that morning as opposed to spending weeks on planes and trucks coming all the way from South America or Mexico," he explains. He believes that anything his daughters eat should be able to be traced back to a natural product or animal, not a laboratory.
While Johnson focuses on making it easier for parents to cook for their kids (and themselves), he also aims to share with a new generation an appreciation of food, gardening and farms, as well as family and life lived at the table. "The table is the best place for conversations to flow and for ideas to formulate. To me, the table is everything," he reveals.
Johnson aspires to see people sharing recipes from generation to generation again and hopes that kids one day will pass right by fast food places and spend a little time at farmers' markets learning about food and the people who produce it. He's not so much about low-fat or low-calorie, but more about beautiful, natural, organic ingredients. "I just try to do what feels right and hope to create some change in my own little way," he says.
By Charyn Pfeuffer, a food writer in Seattle, Wash.