• Thu, Nov 14 - 4:35 pm ET

Now There’s A Service That Ensures Your Nanny’s Cooking Is Sophisticated Enough For Your Foodie Kid

shutterstock_92423734__1384458834_142.196.156.251Hey parents – is your nanny’s palate too unsophisticated for your toddler? Are you worried little Brixton is going to grow up not knowing the difference between quince paste and jelly? Do you like setting money on fire? If so, there is a new service you can hire to make sure you’re raising the foodie your child deserves to be.

The New York Times profiles a family today who sought out the services of a company to help them figure out how to ensure that their 5-year-old was growing up with a diversified palate:

Like other 5-year-olds, Erela Yashiv likes pizza and cupcakes and detests food that contains “green specks” of vegetables. But her mother… wanted her daughter to adopt a more refined and global palate, whether it’s a gluten-free kale salad or falafel made from organic chickpeas.

As working parents, she and her husband, Dan Yashiv, 42, a music producer, do not have time to prepare such fare. And their nanny, from Wisconsin, does not always know the difference between quinoa and couscous.

Enter marc+mark, a company that specializes in teaching Nannies how to cook food that is worthy of the ever-expanding tastes of the children in their care – or probably more accurately, the tastes that their parents want them to have. I mean, what kind of simpleton raises a child to like mac-n-cheese, amiright? Marc Leandro and Mark Boquist are using their experience as personal chefs to the super rich (one worked for Steve Madden, the other for the chairman of J. Crew) to teach nannies how to mold young palates.

“Some of these nannies already do the cooking in the family, but they’re throwing chicken fingers in the oven, or worse, the microwave — they’re doing the bare minimum,” Mr. Leandro said.

I’m guessing that’s because they are nannies and not personal chefs. I’m also guessing this is what the parents have left them to cook.

The service costs $2500. The chefs come to you and assess your child’s eating habits and figure out what you would like to change about those habits. Then your nanny gets an intensive two day cooking course, complete with shopping tips:

Mr. Leandro and Mr. Boquist prepare two-thirds of the cookbook with the nanny at her place of work. On a recent Tuesday, they met Erela’s caregiver, Ashley Hofkens, at a Whole Foods Market near her employers’ apartment. They taught her food-shopping tips. “It’s knowing how to pick a ripe avocado or peach, really simple stuff you might not think of,” Mr. Boquist said. “It’s making sure something is organic, or trying to find products that are local.”

My question is – now that your nanny doubles as your chef and personal shopper – does she get a raise?

(photo: Everett Collection/ Shutterstock)

You can reach this post's author, Maria Guido, on twitter.
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  • CMJ

    Oh fuck! Chicken fingers in the microwave?!? Call CPS.

  • http://www.twitter.com/ohladyjayne allisonjayne

    Holy shit what the fucking fuck.

    Pardon my cursing but seriously…couldn’t you like pay for gourmet meals to be delivered every day for that price? I guess this is one of those ‘give your nanny fishsticks, they’ll feed your kid for a day…hire someone to teach your nanny how to cook quinoa, they’ll hate you forever’ situations?

    I have a few friends who nanny, and it amazes me how much extra (housework, etc) some of their clients expect them to do.

    • Carolina

      Yeah, I don’t get taking advantage of the person who cares for your children every day. You want a happy employee who takes great care of your kids and won’t quit on a dime the day a slightly better gig comes up. If you want a housekeeper/cook, hire one.

    • Katia

      I think the New York nanny probably makes about $18 an hour Or more …and for me Buying and boiling some quinoa and organic greens is just as easy as playing with the kid. Nannys can do meal prep and quinoa is not a hard food to cook! In Canada what nannies are not supposed to do unless you want to pay more tax or something on their salaries is clean your house or do your laundry. They can do meal prep but they get to rest when the kids sleep, Not wash the floor.
      I have been a nanny before and the meal prep is the least of my worries and actually the most disgusting part of it is when the Kids like to eat processed foods such as instant chicken soup and hotdogs

    • Carolina

      What’s your quinoa obsession? That’s not what these people are demanding of their nanny

    • SarahJesness

      I can understand wanting the nannies to cook food, seeing as how feeding kids is part of childcare. But yeah, I hate it when people hire nannies and expect them to do housework that they didn’t sign up for.

      Whatever the case, this is pretty ridiculous. It’s one thing to want your kids to eat a variety of healthy foods and not just prepackaged stuff, but gourmet-type meals that take a long time to prepare? Hard to watch a kid while you’re cooking fancy foods, I imagine. But what’s more, they could probably learn to cook a lot of this from the internet, no need for a $2500 class.

    • Emily

      One of the distinctions between a nanny and a babysitter can be meal prep or light housework (doing the kids’ laundry, making the kids’ meals, etc.) so I don’t think anyone would go into it thinking it was a strict babysitting gig.

    • Carolina

      As long as it’s clearly disclosed up front, it’s not a problem. But if you want someone scrubbing your toilets, don’t call it “light housekeeping.”

      I’m generally pleased if the house isn’t destroyed when I get home (toys picked up, dishes in washer). I pay someone else to clean it.

    • http://www.twitter.com/ohladyjayne allisonjayne

      Yeah I guess that’s what I mean. Keeping the place tidy, sure, dealing with the messes they make, that makes sense.
      I guess it’s mostly just the whole patronizing tone of it that really irritates me. Like these educated rich people clearly know better than their nanny who can’t even pick a proper avocado, gasp.

    • Carolina

      Yes, the snobbery is unbelievable. If someone can’t figure out how to grocery shop, perhaps they aren’t smart enough for child care?

  • libraryofbird

    Best line: And their nanny, from Wisconsin, does not always know the difference between quinoa and couscous.

    So sometimes she does know the difference. I guess even a blind squirrel gets a nut.

    • Jessieface

      Those poor simple ignorant Midwesterners. All joking aside, I found this line to be the worst part. Someone from outside NYC could never understand the class and privileged NEEDS of Manhatten parents and kids. No nanny is cooking chicken fingers in the house without the parent knowledge and permission. I was a nanny for years, if chicken fingers, or any food for that matter was a no no it was well known. I might have been able to sneak the kid some chips or a group on an outing, but there was no way in hells kitchen I was cooking a food in house that was not permitted. I never minded cooking a meal or two, and more often times than not, that expectation was laid out beforehand. But seriously, don’t ask me to cook for your kids and then insult my intelligence and abilities. The amount of crap rich stuck up people convince themselves they and their children need and are entitled to is ridiculous.

    • Sara610

      I currently live just outside of Boston, but both my husband and I have lived all over the country, including the Midwest (Michigan for me, Kansas for my husband; he was born in Kansas and lived there until his early 20s.)

      As much as I love living here, I find it perplexing (and annoying) how many native New Englanders–and I do find New Yorkers to be the worst about this–who have never lived or spent any significant time outside of a two-state radius of where they were born will make dismissive, blanket generalizations like, “Oh, I could NEVER live in the Midwest….there’s just no culture there.” Or “God, the South is awful…..everyone there is so racist and ignorant.” Really? How would you know–you’ve never been there!

      What would these people’s reaction be upon meeting someone from Kentucky, who’s never been outside of that region? These same people would be mocking him for that, I’m sure. It’s a whole other kind of cultural ignorance and narrow-mindedness, it’s just somehow more socially acceptable.

  • Rachel Sea

    Dear god no, not…the microwave!

  • Lanie

    Because clearly, us uncultured swine from Wisconsin have no idea what a quinoa is. That’s what you feed chickens, right? Can we help it that we ride around on our tractors all day consuming cheese by the pound?

    • http://twitter.com/mariaguido Maria Guido

      I know, right? So weird that they included that bit. God.

    • libraryofbird

      Can I sign up for a tractor and cheese tour please? It sounds like fun.

    • Jessieface

      This line enraged me the most.

  • Carolina

    I loved the pretentiousness of this article. Yes, it is fine and great to want your children to eat real, whole foods when not in your care — that’s why I cook extra food, make sure the house is stocked with fruits and veggies, etc so that my nanny can easily prepare healthy, varied meals for my daughter. But we are talking leftover shredded chicken wraps with microwaved (the horror!) frozen veggies, not salmon with a citron glaze. I’d rather her be interacting w/ my child, rather than slaving over a gourmet dish while the child watches TV.
    If you expect the nanny to cook like a personal chef, there had better be a comensurate salary increase.

    • Katia

      It sounds like you don’t understand how fast and easy it is to cook quinoa and organic vegetables add to cut organic fruit it’s not going to take hours and keep the kid in front of the TV.

    • Carolina

      You sort of sound like a troll, sweetie. I’m actually a fairly good cook, so I fully understand how long it takes to get a from scratch complicated meal on the table and the difficulty of doing that with a child. I’m pretty big on feeding my child a healthy, minimally processed diet, but one doesn’t need $2,500 cooking class to do it.

  • Julia Sonenshein

    THIS IS UNREAL.

  • VLDBurnett

    I sincerely hope the nanny got a raise and wasn’t just told they were doing her a favor with the classes and she should be thankful. It’s one thing to out line those expectations in the job description and to make the sort of food you want your kid eating available in the house, but it’s a completely separate issue to tell her “we’re going to make you take cooking classes. You’re not getting paid for it, and it’s time you would have probably had to yourself, but you need to do it. Oh, and this means the time you spend cooking will of course increase…”

  • SarahJesness

    What’s up with rich people and microwaves?

    This sounds like a GREAT money-making scheme. Guys, I think we can take it further: we’ll set up a nanny school! It will only teach basic stuff that you can easily learn on the internet for free, but we’ll charge craploads of money, because after all, rich people are going to want to prove what great parents they are because they’re only hiring ACCREDITED nannies! Who wants to get with me on this? We’ll make a fortune!

    Alternate idea for my personal life… Once I graduate from college, I wonder if I can try to get rich people to pay me insane amounts of money to be a nanny. After all, I know about archaeology and junk, so I can teach the kids how to be cultured and stuff!

    Oh, god… That just sounds like an awful future now, of rich people insisting on hiring college graduates for childcare. Oy…

    • Jessieface

      I hate to break it to you, but this is reality now.

    • SarahJesness

      If this goes a bit further it might be like living in some weird dystopian novel.

    • candyvines

      This comment rubbed me the wrong way when I read it yesterday, and I wanted to give it some time and repeat readings to see if still bothered me. I don’t think you meant to come off as insulting to nannies, but it sounds to me like you’re implying that being a nanny isn’t a suitable or good enough job for a college graduate. Boo.
      It’s always OK to make fun of wealthy people though because they clearly don’t want what is best for their kids just like everyone else.
      Alright, I’ll just be over here un-bunching my panties.

    • SarahJesness

      I’m not saying it’s an unsuitable job for college graduates, but it’s not what most people go to college for. That’s my joke here, you see, I’m not going to college to be a nanny.

      And I’m not faulting rich people for wanting what’s best for their kids. I’m just saying that sometimes, their actions and decisions feel more like they’re trying to one-up other people rather than actually trying to benefit their kids. Like these cooking classes. I can totally understand wanting their kids to have healthier, more varied, cooked food, and I can totally understand sending a nanny to classes for it if she doesn’t know. But these are like, gourmet meals. That’s pretty extreme, especially since the kids would probably be happy with anything.

    • candyvines

      Thanks for responding, I should stop waking up so sensitive :)

  • A fool &his money bought this

    I bet if you were to look at the recent purchase history of the people who sign up for this program the majority of them would have also sprung for those pills that fill your shit with little glittery flakes of gold.

    • Jessieface

      …….wait…..is this a thing?

    • This is a sick, sad world

      I’m so sorry to have to be the one to show this is an acutal product. This is how it must feel to tell a kid that Santa isn’t real; I’ve probably just ruined your life. Please forgive me.

      http://www.citizen-citizen.com/collections/all/products/gold-pills

    • http://twitter.com/mariaguido Maria Guido

      Who? What? When? Where? Why? HOW? WHY??????

    • AmazingE

      I honestly thought you were joking. Until I clicked the link, and then I just cried softly for a minute. Good news is I can achieve the same thing and save myself a few hundred bucks by simply drinking a bottle of Goldschlager.

    • Jessieface

      Wow. I can’t even think of something witty. I guess thinking your shit don’t stink isn’t enough, it has to also literally sparkle. Also, if I had a few hundred disposable dollars- I’d buy it and slip it to people without their knowledge. I think the only acceptable use for them is pranking people.

    • Sara610

      So last night I told my husband about these, and the look on his face was absolutely priceless. I wish I’d had my camera. It was a perfect mix of horror, confusion and revulsion.

    • Ashley

      Okay, but if I’m understanding that link correctly, those were created as fine art to comment on our society’s obsession with useless luxury. That’s not exactly the same as creating them thinking that it was a market that needed to be filled. If people actually buy them intending to use them, however? i have no excuses for them.

  • candyvines

    Thank god I’m a nanny, I might never have learned how to choose a ripe avocado otherwise.

  • Véronique Houde

    What sticks out to me is the fact that these parents were never able to instil the high end snobby eating habits in their kids that they feel go along with being upper middle class, so now they’re shoving the responsibility onto the shoulders of their nannies, who not only must learn to cook complicated meals when she also needs to take care of the kids, but also has to deal with food being thrown away ’cause the kids want nothing of it. How frustrating for the nanny to have to deal with this on top of everything else they have to deal with. Seems like a lot of upper middle class new yorkers are completely out of touch and expect their nannies to make magic happen and turn their kids into little princes and princesses – but they of course don’t have “time” to do it themselves. ;)

  • Amber Starr

    Oh, what the fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu……..

  • http://carrie-murphy.com/ Carrie Murphy

    LOL do you like setting money on fire.

  • Sara610

    Do……do these people never eat with their kid? My husband and I also want our daughter to have a diverse palate and grow up appreciating different, healthy types of foods, but we’re doing it through the shocking and unorthodox practice of cooking different foods at home, letting her see us eat a wide variety of foods and not serving things at home that we don’t want her to have. Unless these parents are literally never eating a meal with their kid, she’s going to learn a lot more from the example they’re setting for her than from this ridiculous waste of $2,500.

    The thing about the microwave chicken nuggets really bugged me. She’s the nanny, not the mom. If she’s feeding your kid microwave chicken nuggets, it’s because you purchased them. Don’t buy them because you’re too lazy to provide “real” food for your kid and then try to blame it on the nanny. She’s not making the decisions about what food is available in the house, you are.

    And for the record, microwave chicken nuggets every once in a blue moon aren’t going to kill anyone. But it doesn’t have to be a choice between either a steady diet of those or homemade vanilla-cinnamon ice cream with quinoa sprinkles.

    • Kat Hudson

      Exactly! My daughter is 2 1/2. I’m a busy single mom. I have cooked delicious, elaborate meals that my daughter couldn’t stand. Well, Mac ‘n Cheese it is! (UGH!) I am not going to starve my child because she isn’t in love with what I eat. I know she’s a toddler and will eventually come around (she just finally started eating fresh fruit again). You have to be somewhat intuitive with your kids. Let them have some say!

  • DatNanny

    I’m not sure what incentives would make me willing to stay in a job like that.

    It’s one thing to have a certain diet for a child to follow – vegetarian, kosher, gluten-free, what have you, I’m on board for all that might entail. I’ve cared for kids with allergies and sensitivities that required a lot of label-reading. Part of the job is knowing how to feed the child in your care, make sure they’re getting what they need nutritionally while still knowing their likes and dislikes, what won’t be a struggle to feed them.

    This is throwing an additional job onto a nanny, that of a gourmet chef, and that’s where I’m not ok with it. If you need a chef as well as a nanny, you hire two people. Some families have that.

    • Sara610

      My guess is that this particular family wants the luxury of a chef and nanny, without actually having to pay for two employees, so they’re going to bleed their nanny dry for everything they can get. Pretty lacking in class.

  • Katia

    I think it’s a good idea. They don’t have time to teach the nanny to cook. Anyways this company knows how to teach baby’s better than the parents could since they are trained to train. And now there’s less chance the nanny will resent the picky parents. I would never feed my kids nugge ts or Fish sticks, yuck! And this is à transferable skill set for the nanny. The people who thought of this are extremely clever. From my experience it gets very awkward to teach a nanny Some things.. depending on your own personality it can just be a lot of emotional energy And or anxiety before and after you teach her. Because you want her to do what you want but at the same time you don’t want her to think you’re bossy or critical Or to resent you

    • EX

      Let’s assume for a second that cooking is an expected part of your nanny’s job: If you need to pay some $2500 to tell your employee how you would like them to do the job you’ve hired them for then maybe you are not cut out to be an employer.

  • Jallun-Keatres

    LOL and I almost threw some “fishticks” (as my sister spells them) in the microwave today. For me. Heavens no! Good thing I settled on cream of wheat instead…

  • FF4life

    If I ever tried to give my daughter a kale salad I’d be picking it out of my hair before dinner is over.

  • Kat Hudson

    I was a live-in nanny in the NYC area back in the late ’80s. I grew up with a microwave in my former Utah home, but we mostly used it to warm things up, not for a lot of cooking. The three children I cared for got lots of natural, homemade food made with love by me because I knew how to cook the regular way and with natural and whole foods. My parents were too poor to feed us anything but meat and potatoes.

    The widowed mom I worked for had a million Lean Cuisine meals stocked up for herself because she hated cooking and left that duty to me (and previous caregivers). Did I mention that she was from a very wealthy family? She’d get stock option checks from her dad’s company that were as much as $25,000 per check like four or five times a week. How do I know? She had ME depositing them for her.

    Oh, and about that whole “light housekeeping.” I arrived to a den of filth. I was told before I arrived that there was a twice-weekly housekeeper. Of course, when I got there, this mysterious housekeeper had suddenly “quit” before I started. I ended up being paid $150 a week to cook, clean, and care for not just the kids, but the entire family. To quote my boss, “Gee, Kat, you’re such a good cook. You should cook every night!” We went out to eat once or twice a week, but I ended up feeding the entire family, including a holiday dinner that she hosted. (“Oh, Kat, that beef tenderloin you made a few months ago was so good. I’ll buy a whole prime rib or filent mignon–you mentioned how your mother taught you how to cook that. The party will be great!).

    Money sometimes really goes to people’s heads. I’m in my 40s and my toddler eats a lot of things including the occasional nuked chicken nugget and mac ‘n cheese. She’s a toddler. You have to feed them what they’ll eat so that they don’t starve. She’s finally come around to eating fresh fruit again as well as allowing vegetables. For about six months, this was not the case. Hmmm…starve the child or let her have what she will ACTUALLY consume? As a mom, not a tough question.

    Also, to the person who thinks fish sticks are horrible, there are plenty of companies making natural and healthy ones. I shop Whole Foods and Earth’s Best is pretty darned good, as is Dr. Praeger’s. Don’t poo-poo what you don’t know!