In addition to blessing New Yorkers with some of Manhattan’s finest restaurants, David Burke spends his time supporting causes that he feels strongly about, such as nutrition in schools and childhood obesity. Last night, Haute Living joined Burke along with his powerhouse celeb-chef team at the swanky “Treehouse” lounge at the David Burke Kitchen in The James Hotel, one of SoHo’s hottest boutique hotels. As part of the Common Threads cooking program, Burke conducted a cooking demonstration for a group of vibrant 11-12 year old students, aiming to expose children to healthy eating habits.
After the interactive cooking class, Haute Living chatted with Burke about his charity work with Common Threads, his goal to change school meals and his favorite healthy dessert.
How did you get involved with Common Threads?
Art Smith came to me a few years ago and asked me to get involved. We started doing it in Chicago and then we started hosting it at The James Hotel. Art is a great guy with a great cause. I’ve watched it grow and he’s got a great group of chefs involved.
How close are we to changing the way kids eat at school?
I think that it takes a lot of time, a lot of economics and a lot of politics. But, I was very surprised as to how many of these kids said they eat fish and spinach. I think in general, with the TV networks and chefs pushing for it, it’s going to change. I think its better already. Money is usually the source of these problems, like affordability for schools, but there’s gotta be a way and I think it starts with chefs making noise.
Do you teach cooking differently to adults and children?
Yes. Even with an adult you need to explain it to them in a fundamental way. Kids want to be treated like adults and they want to get involved. You’ve gotta give them analogies and comparisons. The more they get into the food the more they respect the product.
Your pastry chef Zac Young is involved with the event tonight. Are there any desserts that you would consider to be healthier than others?
If we gave the kids a bowl of fruit tonight, there’s no art to that. But if you cook it a little and put it on a stick, it makes it more fun. I think sorbet, hot bananas and grilled pineapple are good choices. Also, what home cooks don’t understand is that they have so many good things in their pantry like pineapple juice, orange juice, cinnamon, tea and honey.
What nutritious meals did your sons enjoy while they were growing up?
Connor was super picky. Dillon was more experimental. We always went out to dinner at my house, but my dad was a health-nut. When we went to Grandpa’s house they could never get a bad meal because there was no bad food in the house, which is actually the key.
Check out photos from the event below!