CHEF DEZ: Food can make help make special memories out of any situation

Chunks of ham off knives and gallons of root beer, like pirates!

It was about eight years ago when my youngest son, Noah, and I rented an engine hoist to remove the 289-V8 engine out of our 1965 Ford Mustang father and son project.

Although the body of this car had no rust whatsoever, the rest of the car pretty much needed a complete rebuilding from ground up.

Now, you’re probably wondering why I, as a chef, am writing about this in my food column. Well, like the title of this column states, this is not a “how to” on fixing up classic cars, but on how food creates memories in any situation. Please keep reading…

He remembers this day very well. It was a special day for just dad and son to hang out together in the garage all day. My oldest children did not live at home, my youngest daughter was in daycare for the day, and my wife was at work. This left just me and Noah.

One of the things that he liked most about this day was that I let him choose what we were going to eat for lunch in the garage as we worked on the car. I told him he could choose anything he wanted, and I would make it happen. He thought about it for a short time and being only 5 years old he said to me “I want us to eat chunks of ham off of knives just like pirates would, and drink root beer!”

I chuckled but honored his wishes of this lunch request – with my wife’s recommendation that we supplement with some vegetables as well (which we ate off of knives too).

Whenever we talk about this particular day, the thing he remembers most is that lunch. He brings it up regularly. Food is life, quite literally because we need it to survive, but food is also life in the sense that it brings people together and helps to celebrate relationships that we cherish so much.

For example, can you imagine a birthday party without a cake? Or what about a holiday celebration like Thanksgiving or Christmas without a feast? No, I can’t either. Eating in itself is a celebration of the senses as well as nourishment, so we remember these times so vividly, especially when the food is connected to a special time or occasion. Even if it is the simplest of preparation.

I could have easily just said to Noah that we will break for lunch to come inside and have something we would normally have. Instead, I gave him the choice and thus created a wonderful memory.

What can you do today with food (or drink for that matter) to create a wonderful memory for someone? It could be just as simple as treating someone to a coffee, or as elaborate as surprising a loved one with their favourite meal, or anything in between. Every day is full of choices in every aspect, and I know food is always one of those choices (at least three times per day).

How’s the car project coming along, you ask? Well, to make a long story short, we figured it would have been about 15 to 20 years before we ever got it done, and a lot of work that was way over our heads, so we sold it and got a new project car (our decision together) that we could at least drive while we fixed it up.

That switch in project cars lead to a very slippery slope however and we have had a 1965 Pontiac Parisienne, a 1949 Chevrolet Pickup, and currently a 1967 Plymouth Barracuda (which we are still working on).

Anyway, think about your food choices today, and the people in your life. How can you make a difference to someone on this very day?

Chef Dez is a Chef, Writer, & Host. Visit him at

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