Today is the the day where restaurants all over Denmark at a set time, will only be open to children. It is ‘Smagens Time’ (Time to taste). Every restaurant will treat their young diners to a set menu, prepared with fresh, seasonal ingredients. Sounds tempting? Well, adults are not allowed!
In the UK we regularly discuss whether restaurants should ban children. That parents should hire a babysitter and dine in peace without the kids. ‘Smages Time’ is a refreshing response to restaurants (and parents) that excludes children from eating healthy and well prepared food in restaurants. ‘Smagens Time’ replaces ‘kiddie friendly menus’, soggy chips and three peas together with a box of broken crayons – with a proper dining experience! Instead the children are invited and treated as proper diners, they are made feel welcome, into the wonderful universe of real food.
For us as a family dining out has always been important. Small and big occasions are and excellent excuse to gather around a table and enjoy beautifully presented food. We not only see dining out as educational but to us it’s also about including them in a vital part of our family life. There’s no iPads or activity booklets when we visit restaurants, as we see this as our chance to spend time together. The result is not only shared special moments but a genuine food interest; where does food come from, what is seasonal and how to prepare it.
So it was with great interest I discovered ‘Smagens Time’, an initiative by Claus Meyer (the man behind Noma) now running for the 4th time. Every year, children between the age of 5 and 15 years will sit down at one of Denmark restaurants to dine with their siblings and friends – but without their parents. The children get the opportunity to enjoy a healthy and tasty three-course menu that both stimulates the taste buds and expand the children’s knowledge of food. Top chefs across the country will plan and prepare a meal of the highest standard, that reflects the season, tastes wonderful and stimulate young people’s curiosity about the food. A three course meal including drinks comes at £15 (DKK150). The ticket covers both food and drinks. Participating restaurants includes Claus Meyer’s Restaurant Radio.
Last years ‘Smagens Time’ event included 89 restaurants and more than 3.700 children enjoyed fabulous seasonal food and drinks. One mum wrote this testimony after last years event:
“On behalf of our daughter I just wanted to say thank you for a marvellous experience. Together with a friend, both girls 10 years old, dined at Restaurant Nose2tail. It was an extraordinary evening. ‘Smagens Time’ is an excellent idea and investment of our future; or children.” Line Vaaben
‘Smagens Time’ takes place today, 7th of October at 4:30pm. The event is organised by the foundation Melting Pot. All proceeds from the event will support a charity in Bolivia that runs a restaurant and cookery school, where socially disadvantaged children and young people receive an education and a chance to get out of poverty.
In the UK we rely on Jamie Oliver to do the food fight, wether it is fighting poor quality in school lunches or obesity in children. But no man ever won a battle on his own. We all need to contribute to educating our children on food. From home growing and harvesting to cooking, eating together – and occasionally dine out.
Would it not be an idea to follow Denmark’s example and introduce real food to children, through a similar concept; ‘Time to taste UK 2016’?