Why Modern Dads Rock the Kitchen

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Back in the day, most dads’ culinary skills were restricted to two main categories: breakfast and any grilled meat. Don’t get me wrong—those dads of yesteryear killed it when it came to pancakes and pork tenderloin, and for that their families were forever grateful.

These days, though, as more and more households are divvying up the chores equally between partners, it’s no longer strange to see a dad heading up the kitchen—either every now and then or every single night. And there’s a good chance they’re the ones stocking the pantry, too. According to recent research, more than half of dads report being the primary grocery shopper in their household.

Historically, most high-profile professional chefs have been men, but now amateur gastronomes include the everyday guy who might be a physician or electrician or graphic designer by day, and who dons a (probably metaphorical) apron when he comes home from work. A proof point to this trend is a new cooking show launching this fall (network still TBD, as best I can tell) called Dads That Cook where, throughout a 13-episode season, the host—self-taught cook, comedian and dad Jason Glover—showcases dads who are cooking up amazing food for their families.

Dads That Cook features fathers from around the United States demonstrating their unique culinary creations, putting the spotlight on the everyday family – specifically the role of the modern dad in and out of the kitchen,” the show’s Kickstarter page reads. “Modern families no longer center around mother doing the bulk of household work. Men are stepping up to the home plate in a whole new way and finding out, ‘Hey, I really like this!’”

Dads That Cook features fathers from around the United States demonstrating their unique culinary creations, putting the spotlight on the everyday family—specifically the role of the modern dad in and out of the kitchen,” the show’s Kickstarter page reads. “Modern families no longer center around mother doing the bulk of household work. Men are stepping up to the home plate in a whole new way and finding out, ‘Hey, I really like this!’”

Not so fast there, Dads That Cook. Mothers are still doing the bulk of the household chores, including cooking, according to multiple studies. But the show is definitely onto something, as there’s certainly an uptick in men in the kitchen (and the increasing normality around that trend, too).

Last November, The New York Times featured a piece called “When Their Workday Ends, More Fathers Are Heading Into the Kitchen,” highlighting a handful of New York men who have assumed the role of meal preparer in their homes. It’s a job these men take seriously (“We do a lot more than barbeque,” one man pointed out), and something that they view as a way to share housework with their wives, who also work.

“I believe in an equal share of housework,” said Lorin Wertheimer, a working father of two who was interviewed for the article. “It’s a way in which I can pull my weight.”

And men are agreeing with Wertheimer. A study published in 2013 showed that 42 percent of men spend time cooking on any given day. That number back in 1965? A measly 29 percent. Studies show that usually men enjoy cooking, too—they don’t just endure it to give their partners a break.

There are all sorts of other factors that could have contributed to this boosted interest in cooking. Everything from an increase in male chef personalities (think Anthony Bourdain and Jamie Oliver) to an uptick in food and cooking coverage in male-centric media outlets to the recession, which led more people to cook at home as opposed to eating out.

From a personal standpoint, my husband, Kevin and I aren’t yet parents, but it’s already clear Kevin will be doing at least half—if not more—of the cooking once we are. How do I know? Because he’s already the primary chef in our household, and he’s better at weeknight meal prep than I am. (I’m the baker in our house, and Kevin gets first place when it comes to cooking—especially recipe-free cooking. He’s just so intuitive about flavors!)

As someone who both loves to cook and is a big fan of splitting household tasks equally, I’m excited about this change we’ve been seeing in cooking culture. Inevitably, as more children grow up in households where their fathers are contributing to the cooking, the more of an everyday, non-event it will be to see Dad at the stove—not just the grill.

And so, on this Father’s Day, I raise my glass to all those dads out there who enjoy cooking, and who show it by manning the kitchen often. Thanks for your help in making the world a more delicious place to live—and eat—in.

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Hulton Archive / Getty

Anna Keller likes the occasional fancy, over-the-top meal served on a white tablecloth, but will be just a happy with dinner from Taco Bell (she and her husband were there the day they launched their new breakfast menu.) For her, food is about the experience, the story, the tradition, and the community it provides, and it takes a starring role in her blog, where she shares recipe creations and recreations—usually of the baking variety.

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