With three children—ages 7, 8, and 9—in the house, Strings chef Aaron Whitcomb keeps his kitchen stocked with kid-friendly fare.
Kitchen Cred This Colorado native studied culinary arts at the Art Institute of Colorado in Denver, and his resume includes chef gigs at Adega, Table 6, and his current role heading up the kitchen at Strings. He also worked as an assistant sommelier at the award-winning Alinea, the renowned molecular gastronomy restaurant in Chicago.
Kid Cafe "You open the pantry and it's all kids' stuff here," says Whitcomb. "Most of it is pretty straightforward, but the kids do have an interest in cooking. We stock up on things like pancake mix, so that they can make their breakfast and be proud of the fact that they can do it on their own."
The Soup Pot "I'm addicted to pho," says Whitcomb. "I like Pho Saigon off County Line and Quebec, but not as much as I like Pho 99 off Alameda. I make my own ghetto pho at home—I keep beef ramen stocked up and add sliced raw meat with hoisin and sambal (Vietnamese chile-garlic paste), and add basil and bean sprouts."
Charmed Whitcomb has an assortment of wineglass charms to help identify guests' glasses, and he often pours interesting (and affordable) Spanish wines. Two to try: Abadia Retuerta Rívola Sardon de Duero, a Tempranillo from northwest Spain, and Finca Luzon from Jumilla, Spain.
Movie Night "My girlfriend makes the best traditional popcorn. The trick is to cook it on high heat and just use Orville Redenbacher's popcorn kernels, canola oil, and salt."
Baked Fresh "I like teaching the kids to make homemade pizza," Whitcomb says. "We'll make a yeast dough, let it rise, punch it down, and let it rise again. We make homemade tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella, and then we'll bake the leftover pizza dough with cinnamon, sugar, and butter."
RECIPE: Homemade Cranberry Sauce
- 1 bag cranberries, fresh
- 1 orange, zest, juice, and segments
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon; grated fresh from a stick is preferred
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg; grated fresh is preferred
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/8 cup red wine vinegar
- pinch salt
- pinch black pepper
Combine all ingredients, except for orange segments, in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook until almost dry, stirring frequently. Once cooked, spread over a cookie sheet and cool, folding in the orange segments at the last minute.