Teaching Taste: Inspiring Healthy Taste Buds!

by Mindy Lockard on July 15, 2009


What would a Teaching Taste series be without food?  As an etiquette consultant, dining is a large part of my business.  In my dining programs we serve food that is organic, local, sustainable and always beautifully presented.  I love surprising children with different tastes and watching eyes dance with excitement and pride when they’ve tasted food they weren’t expecting to care for.  A guest who eats the food that is served and doesn’t fuss is the most gracious of dinner guests.

Today, a chef to the stars, the gracious Chef Poala Petrella joins us for a heart-to-heart on inspiring children to broaden their actual palate for healthy and interesting food.

When did you know you wanted to be a chef?

When I was 9 years old in Caracas , Venezuela

How do your children see food?

They don’t analyze it. They simply try it and if they taste buds agree, they will keep eating it. I don’t force them. But I do encourage them to try new things.

What are some tricks you have to exposing your children to various foods/cuisine?

I will cook with them. They will usually eat something that they made or made with me. I also make really nice and clean presentations for them. Food has to look appealing to be interesting.

What advice do you have for parents on inspiring taste in a picky eater?

Children are not picky. I think it is that parents are so intimidated by their children’s palates, that they just figure grilled cheese and ketchup shall be fine, so long they eat something. Make their lunch boxes more exciting! Put a new fruit in their container and let them taste it. Fresh mango and grapefruit salad is not very common in a kid’s lunch box. But I bet you they will like it. Buy organic fresh packed snacks instead of the processed stuff. Help them eat healthier by not making it so tempting for them.  The worst you can do, is let a picky child rule your kitchen!

How can a person’s willingness to eat various foods help with their self esteem?

Opening up to new food can be hard and intimidating. If we are used to eating an unhealthy diet, chances are we are not going to check out the organic section. As long as one person in the house is willing to give it a shot, you will be surprised with the results! At least meeting in the middle will be good enough.

Food and self-esteem. There is a misconception on food that is causing this whole eating disorder cycle to never end. We have to eat! We cannot live with out food. Our bodies do not function when they are not properly nourished. I see a change in my body when I go months on healthy and disciplined cycles. Your body sleeps better; you can actually feel your body functioning in a positive way. This is how your self esteem gets inspired and you simply feel good!

How do you make healthy eating fun?

Follow their choices! But twist them with something healthy. For example, if my kiddo’s want to eat ice cream with fudge…I take them to Pinkberry (frozen yogurt) for regular with chocolate chips – it’s incredibly delicious and more than half the calories! But…I also let them eat a little “junk” here and there, so they don’t think we are born again health nuts! That is pushing it, in my opinion.

I never buy high sugar cereals too. Try to meet in the middle with them. Rice Krispies rather than Captain Crunch.

If you could give one piece of advice for inspiring a taste for heathly food what would it be?

The most important thing I try to teach my children about food, is that we always must have an open mind about all foods.  The more we learn and explore new ingredients, the broader our menu choices will be.


Chef Paola Petrella’s recipe for success…

Soon after graduating in 1999 from Johnson & Wales University with a BA in Culinary Arts, Paola Petrella went to work for highly acclaimed Chef, Norman Van Aken in his award-winning restaurant Norman’s in Coral Gables. At Normans, not only did she receive the best training years of her culinary career but she also met the man who soon became the love of her life and partner, Chef Craig Petrella.

After her years at Norman’s Paola took her career in another direction and began to cook privately for Miami’s hottest celebrities. When her clients began noticing the positive change in their bodies with Paola’s cuisine, she instantly developed a passion for healthy cooking with a twist. In 2002 she was invited by Cristina Saralegui to write healthy cooking tips and articles in her monthly magazine, “Cristina”. She also appeared in several of her talk shows, promoting cooking tips and healthy recipes for the Latin audience in her segment called, “El Club de la Salud”.

Paola went on to work one on one with other respected clients in Miami Beach and successfully reached their dietary goals. She moved with her husband Craig Petrella to Los Angeles In 2003 and quickly established herself as “The” Chef among the stars. Her unique passion for healthy cooking has opened many doors. Such as creating customized recipes for celebrity trainers and starting her own booming business of Customized Healthy Meal Services in Los Angeles. She works directly with an A-list clientele who rely on chef Paola’s daily creations to look great, feel great and eat delicious food!

In 2006 she opened Two Peas Inc. with her husband and partner Craig Petrella. For more information on Two Peas, please log on to www.twopeasinc.com

Paola resides in Los Angeles, with her Husband and two beautiful children Thomas (5) and Sophia (3). She is currently working on the Big Expansion of Two Peas Inc. – stay tuned for more…it’s just about to get good. www.twopeasinc.com

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