Getting Personal with our Hands-On Cook-Off Winner: A Chat with Lila’s Dad!

Here at Better Together, we’ve been gushing about the adorable Lila from the moment her dad, Ben, entered their video in this year’s Hands-On Cook-Off Contest. Many of us had never even heard of Clafouti before! Which made it even more entertaining to see this toddler having the time of her life whipping up a Cherry Clafouti with her dad. When she dusted it with icing sugar, we know one thing for sure: this is a family that loves to cook!  Here, we catch up with Ben and get a little personal with this year’s Grand Prize Winner. Enjoy!

BT: Congratulations to you both! How did you hear about our Hands-On Cook-Off contest and what motivated you to enter?

BG: Thank you. Well, last year I heard about the contest through a press release sent to me. I had a look at the contest, and thought it would be fun to shoot a quick video of my daughter and me cooking. We just loved how Lila's Lemon Mousse turned out (last year) and so decided we'd enter again this year. I hope the contest continues for a long time as it's a great way to document ourselves cooking every year!

BT: It looks like you are a bit of a pro in the kitchen. Tell us a little about yourself and how you got into the culinary world.

BG: Ha ha, well, I've certainly been into food ever since I can remember, and am very passionate about it indeed. I co-founded and co-edit, a collective of like-minded food worshippers. Cooking and food are a major part of my life. I'm also a certified PNWBA barbecue judge and really enjoy everything about traditional, low and slow Southern barbecue. I'm working on inspiring Lila to get into it too. She calls ribs, "meat on the bone". It's so cute.

BT: Tell us about a typical week in the life of you and Lila. What are your favorite routines?

BG: Well, we have busy mornings most days, but for as long as she's been able to, Lila loves to pull up a chair to the kitchen counter and help out making meals. Breakfast is usually cereal for her Monday to Friday, but our weekend morning routine involves her highly involved in coffee making. She spoons out the exact amount of whole beans into the grinder, and then the ground beans into the Bodum. I usually have her smell the beans too and test her on what notes she can detect (usually she just says, "chocolate", which is still impressive).

Our go-to grocery store is usually Famous Foods on Kingsway. They have great organics, bulk items and better meat than any of the supermarkets. Lila loves to come along, though she's more motivated by riding in the shopping cart and the chance she may convince us to acquiesce and buy her one of the lollypops strategically placed right at the cash.

BT: Sounds like cooking and eating together are a big part of your week! Do you find your love of cooking contagious with Lila?

BG: Oh yes. Lila's mom Andrea and I split our roles in the kitchen: I do more of the cooking and she's a baker. Since Lila could stand on a chair, she's been highly involved in baking with her mom. I've been waiting for her to develop a little more dexterity before arming her with her own knife for her role as sous, though am going to get her a plastic lettuce knife so she can do some prep with me. I was teaching her how to remove pin bones from a salmon filet recently too. All indications point to Lila being a great help in the kitchen since she won't let us cook without her. A couple of years ago we got her one of those mini kitchens and put it right next to ours. We thought this would allow her to participate in cooking without always getting in our way, but in reality, the real kitchen is a much bigger draw.

BT:  Ha ha, of course it is!  Can you tell us what’s Lila's favorite recipe to cook together at home?

BG: I'd have to say, Lila's favourite recipe is Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies, usually made with her mother. Here is the recipe:

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup flour
1 cup chocolate chips

Cream butter, beat into peanut butter and sugars and beat in egg and vanilla. Add dry ingredients; fold in chocolate chips. Drop on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake in 350 degree F oven for approximately 12 minutes, or until tops are lightly browned. Recipe can, and should, be doubled, especially if you have a toddler cooking with you.

Ben, thank you so much for entering this contest and for your time today! It’s been a pleasure getting to know you and Lila and we can’t wait to see what you come up with next year! And for anyone out there who hasn’t yet seen this year’s Hands-On Cook-Off Contest Grand Prize Winner, here it is: Lila’s Cherry Clafouti. 

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