Ever wondered how your kids would fare in a fine dining restaurant but were too scared to try it out? Why not ask your school to take them to Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse in the Monarch Hotel, where, even if they have the table manners of an untrained monkey, they’re sure to pick up some useful tips. First off, the kids discover that the original Chicago branch was called The Chris Steakhouse until it was taken over by a lady called Ruth, hence the lisp-inducing (but grammatically correct) apostrophe. Then, the kids are split into two groups and given tours of the plush eating area, where they learn how orders are taken and processed through computer to the kitchen (‘really cool!’); as well as how to sit properly at the table, which cutlery to use and what a napkin is for – all handy stuff. As eight-year-old Saakhi from the American School of Dubai says, ‘I’ve never been to a restaurant this fancy before – you’d have to be very good if you came here or else you’d be grounded.’
They also see how the serving staff do their job and ascertain, amid much slapstick comedy, why restaurants have one door for going into the kitchen and one for coming out. In the kitchen tour, and decked out in fetching hygienic bonnets, they watch the staff slice onions and peel potatoes for fries. A tour of the vast walk-in meat fridge is a highlight for its sheer size and goriness (the girls are particularly squeamish at the smell of blood) while the tank – a temporary home to the soon-to-be-dinner lobster – elicits groans of sympathy. Still in their groups, one tucks into chicken nuggets and chips (shame the kids don’t get to try the restaurant’s renowned steaks or wagyu mini burgers), while the other decorates Ruth’s Chris’ equally famous brownies with cream, strawberry and chocolate sauce. All change, and an hour later, everyone is sated and ready to leave, armed with their Ruth’s Chris t-shirts, backpacks, caps and vouchers for mum and dad.
Contact: Romika Fazeli (04 501 8666/050 459 0531; email@example.com)
Pizza di action
Getting three- and four-year-olds to stay focused – and focused on food – for more than two seconds, is no mean feat, yet it’s one that Sonny, the chef from The Pizza Company, manages to achieve admirably (the man clearly has kids himself). The Pizza Company, which has just launched its food education programme, arrives at your nursery with all the elements for its pizza- and pasta-making demonstrations and an aim to educate tots about ingredients, cooking processes and the workings of a restaurant. The perfect canvas for experimentation, pizza allows the very young ones uncomplicated culinary creation. Sonny talks throughout the entire process, asking lots of questions (‘what shape is a cut-up pizza?’ and ‘what different colours can be found on a pizza’?) and, at every stage, he passes the pizza around for all to smell, see and ‘squidge’ with their fingers. The kids love it, and even respond well to the texture differences between parmesan and mozzarella. Finally, they get to be hands-on, with some excessive cheese sprinkling and, the most important part, gobbling up complimentary pizza and pasta – a yummy experience, summed up by post-pizza-eating cries of ‘I want more mozzarella on mine’ and ‘Mummy, can we make pizza tonight?’ Part of the Saleh Bin Lahej group, school classes may also see inside their many restaurants (which include Chili’s) to discover ‘a working kitchen’ and the firm plans to introduce other cuisines into the food education scheme.
Contact: Jinger Pangamipan (04 2828 188 x260)
Going organic has many benefits, and at the Organic Foods and Café, kids get to smell, taste and feel the difference in this interactive learning session. ‘Organic’ could be a rather complex subject, but the Dubai Mall branch of this popular café runs 45-minute tours accommodating up to 20 kids at a time, and have simplified the subject. To make it fun and interesting, kids are encouraged to use all their senses, tasting an organic apple in the fruit and vegetable section, sniffing a bottle of natural shampoo in the cosmetics section, and touching soft organic towels in the children’s section. Topped off with a few interactive games and a healthy, organic (of course) breakfast in the store’s café, the kids get to learn first hand about the benefits of organic products.