Andrew McCarthy is known for turning ordinary foods like corn and Cheetos into a Michelin star-worthy palate, all with the help of his three daughters, and his wife.
Andrew McCarthy, a dad of 4, has taken over the kitchen and is now proclaimed Masterchef. He lets his wife and three daughters pick a random item from the kitchen that will be the star ingredients for their dinner. According to TODAY, he is known for turning ordinary foods like corn and Cheetos into a Michelin star-worthy palate, all with the help of his three daughters, Riley, 7, Teagan, 4, and Emery, 2. In a now-viral video on his Tiktok handle (@cookingwithkids321), his children picked waffles, kiwis, walnuts, and halibut from the freezer. McCarthy calls her the "wild card" because she's famous for throwing an unusual ingredient into the mix.
McCarthy, a high school teacher by day and a chef at night, decided to give these ingredients a go. He coated the halibut in waffle breadcrumbs and topped it with fresh kiwi. Then, he served the fish with roasted broccoli, walnuts, and crunchy potato chips. The meal got the approval from the harshest food critic, his daughters. However, McCarthy was gratified because, as he says, they "are not filtering anything." The time he spends in the kitchen, or as McCarthy calls it, "constructive play," is something he enjoys very much. "I truly believe that if a kid has any kind of like choice or if they are part of the creation of something, then they're going to own it more."
McCarthy says the time spent with his family is never enough. "It doesn't matter if it takes half an hour or two hours because they're there cooking with me," he says. "There's nothing I'd rather do than just be with them, if we're kneading dough or whatever it is." His culinary journey began in college when he opened up a can of chili and mixed it with a box of mac and cheese. Now, McCarthy uses his TikTok platform to bond with his wife and four children. Another night during dinner, McCarthy was handed fruit snacks, which he melted into a vinaigrette. And when his children handed him pretzels, he turned them into powder to make fresh pretzel flour pasta.
McCarthy and his wife, Amber, try to make the cooking experience as educational as possible for their children. For example, the couple uses the metaphor of a campfire to help their kids understand how their bodies use the food they are cooking. "It just leads to good, in-depth conversations that are way above their level, but they can understand because you're putting them on a level that they understand," he says. McCarthy notes that his daughters often pass on a "twig" item like ice cream for a "log" item like chicken. The parents make it clear that they are not depriving their children of any food, they genuinely enjoy eating.
If you were to ask McCarthy's eldest daughter her favorite food, she would say broccoli, according to her dad. "In her mind, she knows that broccoli makes her healthy, makes her feel good, makes her bigger and stronger, and all that sort of stuff, and she's attached to that," he says. McCarthy hopes to teach his children to like the "right food for the right reasons." He says he wants his children to have a positive relationship with food, and by sharing these lessons with the world, he's helping other parents, too. He also hopes his videos inspire other parents to cook with their kids and have good conversations with them at a young age. "If even just one parent is more likely to cook with their kids, spend more time with their kids, or have a conversation about food with their kids, then it's worth posting 100 videos of this kind of thing."