Donatella Arpaia on How She Celebrates Mother’s Day

The chef and entrepreneur talks about her first holiday as a mom, traditions, and waffles in bed

You’ve seen her get tough as a judge on Food Network’s Iron Chef America and The Next Iron Chef, but off camera Donatella Arpaia is just as determined. As mother of one and a New York restaurateur who has opened 10 restaurants including Donatella, DBar, and Kefi, she juggles a whole lot. 

This year marks Arpaia's first Mother’s Day, as she gave birth to her son in September 2011. Here, she answers a few questions about family traditions, table setting, and how to get kids involved during the holidays.

Where are you celebrating Mother's Day?

Almost every year I have hosted my family at one of my restaurants, but this is my first year celebrating Mother's Day as a mother myself, so it's all about creating new traditions! My husband told me that we would go up to our weekend home the night before because in the morning he and my 6-month-old are going to make me waffles. Afterward we will likely have brunch with my mom and then dinner with my mother-in-law; perhaps one of those will be at Donatella!

What will be on the table? 

I love setting the table for special occasions. For holidays where all the kids are involved, I make place cards and provide little gifts for all the little children that they can play with during the meal.

Any particular activities for the kids? 

I'm a big crafter and I like to theme it for the occasion, so I will most likely have stickers and markers available for the kids to make homemade Mother’s Day cards with. I also bake a couple of batches of cupcakes and have the kids frost the cupcakes themselves — one for them and one for mom! This is always a crowd-pleaser. Added bonus: Little paper chef hats and aprons for the kids to decorate and wear.

How many guests are usually involved? How many of them are children?

There are tons of nieces and nephews on both mine and my husband’s side, so when the whole family gets together, there are very easily 20 children ranging from 3 months to 12 years taking part.

What are the traditions in your family that happen each Mother's Day?

When I was young I always made my mother a card and she has saved them all. We cherish going through the box of old cards together. To this day, I always buy a beautiful card and some flowers for my mom. Now that I'm older I value my mother more as a friend and I like to spoil her a bit, so in addition to a card and flowers I usually plan an experience gift with her like a Broadway show or a weekend in Atlantic City.