As is so often the case for entrepreneurs, the path to founding Kid’s Table was not necessarily linear for Anicia Ngozi. Before working as a high-profile nanny, Anicia worked in tech in people ops. While nannying, she attended culinary school and refined her skills by testing recipes with the kids she cared for.
After graduating, Anicia was a private chef, cooking for families for another four years, often making separate meals for the adults and their children. This was quite a departure from how she grew up; everyone in her family ate the same thing at mealtime—the kids ate what their grownups ate. She didn't know it then, but this observation would eventually inform her decision to start Kid's Table.
An ah-ha moment came when she went into research mode during the pandemic and noticed that there wasn’t a food product out there that was made specifically for kids that was also globally inspired, designed to expand their palate, and convenient. Coupled with the request to create an actual product (Kid’s Table originally started as a virtual cooking class), Anicia got to work on creating a “hero” menu of 10 globally-inspired flavor- and nutrient-packed dishes. Today, Kid’s Table offers a meal-delivery service, catering, birthday parties, and cooking classes.
We were thrilled to have a chance to speak with Anicia about picky eaters, the magical power of sauces and dips, and why kids hate veggies.
Is there a way to prevent kids from becoming picky eaters?
So this may be controversial, but I truly believe picky eating is taught. There is no such thing as "kids' food," and you'll see this in most cultures - kids usually eat whatever the family is eating. I think getting kids involved in mealtime is really important and shows them how important it is for the family to eat together (or at least eat similar foods). Also, giving them options they love is great, but it's important to provide them with the chance to try something new. Kids actually have to try something 10-12 times before they can decide if they like it or not. Most parents, understandably, don't have the patience for that. We can't put that responsibility on parents all the time; that's not realistic. Kid's Table is a way of helping parents, and I want to see more up-and-coming food brands coming to grocery store shelves to also help.
What advice to you have for the parents of picky eaters?
When introducing something new, be sure also to include familiar things. Kids respond to familiarity. For example: instead of the whole bowl of new food, serve your child half of what's already familiar to them and half of something new. One way to talk about a new addition to the plate is a buddy system i.e., "the pasta and broccoli are buddies!"
Another tip is to take a food they're familiar with but give it to them in a new form. If they love potatoes, you can make potato fritters and add zucchini. If they love meatballs, try a teriyaki sauce as a way of introducing them to a new flavor profile. I always tell parents is get their kids involved in the cooking process. They’re more willing to try something when they're familiar with it. If they’ve never touched it, or smelled it, they’re more hesitant to try it. If kids can put a spoon in it, they’re more inclined to want it.
That's great advice! Do you have any tricks for parents who are overwhelmed by trying to feed their picky eaters?
Hear me out: sauce. Kids love sauce. Always have jars of different sauces on hand. It's also a really easy way to hide vegetables. Pasta sauce can be blended with different types of veggies. Our pizza sauce is blended with zucchini, carrots, and tomatoes. You absolutely do not have to spend the whole day in the kitchen—the same with pesto. Pesto can be blended with kale and spinach to add more veggies. Sauce can also be used as a dip—kids love dipping.
Kids also love having a variety of things to choose from. A fun/easy meal can be charcuterie board served on a platter - your kid will feel like a little king or queen! A variety of veggies, snacks, sweets, protein, fiber, carbs can all be on the same plate. Bonus points: you can easily sneak in things that you want them to try.
Why do you think kids hate veggies?
It becomes a pressure thing. I think that’s one of the reasons. The second reason is that they’re made in a way that’s not fun. Steamed vegetables are plain. Think about roasted vegetables. Dippable vegetables. Things that just have a little more flavor. Small changes like that seem to go over a little bit better.
This seems daunting...
Omg, I totally get it. I think feeding kids takes effort and work just like any other part of parenting. It's certainly easier (and less time-consuming) to make the recipe yourself and serve them food you know they've had before and will definitely eat. But taking those little moments to get them involved or to introduce a new food or spice can go a long way.
Kid's Table is based in New York City.
For more information about Kid's Table meal delivery service, classes, and catering, visit their website.
A more limited menu is available for frozen meals via ipsa. Delivery is currently available in much of the New York metro area, including NYC, Westchester, Fairfield, and parts of New Jersey and Long Island.
You can also follow along on Kid's Table's adventures on Instagram.