How Chefs Celebrate Father's Day

From picking you up when you fell to countless hours spent pitching balls at the baseball diamond, dad has always been there for you. So how are you honoring him this Father's Day?

Maybe you've celebrated dad in past years by heading out for a hike (with a picnic lunch) or by giving your kids their first proper grilling tutorial. This year, make this Father's Day different by starting a new tradition. And who better to inspire you than eight talented chefs — sons and/or fathers themselves — from around the country. From making your own "horrible drinks" to a pancake breakfast fiesta, find a tradition that appeals to you and give it a try.

Do you have a long-standing Father's Day tradition? Share it with us, below!


1. Glenn Harris, co-owner and executive chef at The Smith and Jane in New York City 

"Every year on Father's Day, my son Max and I start the day off with bagels and smoked fish from Zucker's, then we go fishing (we keep our boat in Brooklyn). On the way back to the city, we stop for raw clams in Sheepshead Bay. We cook what fish we catch (usually striped bass) and we end the day watching the movie Big Daddy."  

Tradition to Start: If dad loves to fish, pack a lunch and head out on the boat. When you return at the end of the day, serve him his favorite rum drink then together prepare a grill feast for the family with fish tacos, figs, and vegetables.


2. Jacob Sessom, chef/owner at Table in Asheville, N.C. 

"I have two kids at home, sons ages 11 and 13. Every year, they leave for summer camp on Father's Day, so we actually celebrate the Saturday of the weekend before. We fly down to Atlanta (Ga.) for the weekend and go to Restaurant Eugene for the tasting menu. One of my kids loves food, so he greatly enjoys it. The other not so much — he's more of a pizza and watching movies at home kind of guy. When I'm home with the boys, though, I'd rather not cook with them since I spend so much time doing it at the restaurant. But we've been known to stand over cast-iron skillets, competing to see who can eat the most hot sauce-topped fried eggs. They'll sometimes cook for me, too — their specialty is scrambled eggs."

Tradition to start: It's the kids' turn to rule the kitchen. Serve dad a plate of scrambled eggs or pancakes for breakfast (with help from mom or another adult, if they're young), or prepare his favorite ham and Swiss sandwich for lunch. What you choose can be as simple or as complex as you'd like.


3. Takashi Inoue, chef/owner at Takashi in New York City

"Growing up in Osaka, Father's Day was an occasion to make a large batch of dumplings. We made the fillings together, like ground pork and beef, or vegetables. We formed each dumpling, steamed them, and then ate as a family. I liked all the different toppings that could go with each, and having a big batch of dumplings to pick from always held an element of surprise. We would also make sweet dumplings for dessert, so the whole meal was different dumplings and that was very special."

Tradition to start: Make a meal together. Try your hands at dumplings, or pick up some mozzarella curd and pull your own cheese. Serve it with grilled bread, a big bowl of sliced cherry tomatoes, and a sprinkling of basil and sea salt. Or cook a family recipe together, like his mom's signature lasagna or meatloaf.


4 . Aaron London, executive chef at Ubuntu in Napa, Calif. 

"Growing up, we always celebrated Father's Day the same way, and my parents continue to do so in my absence. It always starts with making a frittata, followed by coffee and sticky buns from Downtown Creamery and Bakery in Healdsburg, Calif. Then, we'd out to go hiking at Point Reyes, at either Bear Valley Trail or at Tomales Point, to see the Tooley Elk. Afterwards, we would usually head home and cook dinner, maybe with some awesome crab we picked up while on the coast."

Tradition to start: Spend the day out of doors hiking, biking, or on the water. Stop at a local fish market or farm stand on your way home to pick up whatever looks good for dinner — or surprise him with a trip to his favorite casual restaurant on the way home.


5. Josh Sharkey, chef/co-owner at Bark Hot Dogs in Brooklyn, N.Y. 

"My dad used to make these things called the "Horrible Drink" — not necessarily the most compelling name. He would make it on Father's Day and other special occasions. Basically it is a cross between a smoothie and a milkshake, only because he would put whatever we had around in the house into a blender with ice. I remember anything from bananas to peanut butter going in there, or milk, chocolate ice cream, and maraschino cherries. One of my favorite combinations was the strawberry, vanilla ice cream, ice, milk, and chocolate sauce combo. I never really knew why he called them "horrible drinks," perhaps as a way to dissuade us from having them all the time since we would have easily enjoyed them every day if he had allowed us to."

Tradition to start: Instead of dessert, have each member of the family concoct their own "Horrible Drink." Serve it in small cups so that everyone can sample each creation to see which is best — though, that would be dad's, no?


6. Mark Timms, chef at The Jockey Club in Washington, D.C.

"As a child growing up in the U.K., my father and I would celebrate Father's Day by going berry picking in the Yorkshire dales. After several hours of walking in the countryside, we would head home and give the berries to our mother, who then would make all sorts of pies and jams."

Tradition to start: Head out to your local farm or orchard to pick whatever fruit is in season, be it strawberries or peaches. Bring home plenty of fruit to then make jam, bake, and cook with.


7. Ben Pollinger, executive chef at Oceana in New York City

"I like an active Father's Day, and get the most enjoyment out of the day by seeing my kids happy. The most important thing is spending the time with my kids. Since one of my favorite things to cook at home is banana pancakes, that's how we start Father's Day. The older kids help me make the batter and cook them, and everyone loves to eat them. Then we'll do something together, maybe go to the park and ride our bikes, go to the local zoo where they also have a carousel and small train, or something like that. I'll cook a simple grill afterward, grilled fish (which my kids love) and corn on the cob. I like to grill the corn in the husk, it steams the corn in the husk and intensifies the flavor."

Tradition to start: An annual Father's Day pancake breakfast, complete with a variety of ingredients to add to your plain pancake batter (and to top the finished product with) for a customized meal. And don't forget the bacon!


8. Jawn Chasteen, executive chef at The Sea Grill in New York City 

"For me growing up, Father's Day was generally a day spent outdoors, playing golf, baseball, basketball, tennis, or fishing and we always ended the day around the grill. Pie has always been (and still is) a standard on Father's Day. My mother would always make a "cherries delight." It was a no-bake pie with a graham cracker crust, whipped Philly cream cheese, and canned cherries in their syrup evenly spread about the top. She would let it set up for a couple of hours and then we would all go at it. We really had them all: peach, blackberry, blueberry, banana cream, lemon meringue, key lime with meringue, strawberry rhubarb, cherry, even peanut butter fudge. The most recent addition to our repertoire was the double-chocolate pudding pie with Oreo cookie crust, also known in our family as the 'dark lord.'"

Tradition to start: Get creative and create a pie that screams dad, filled with all his favorite flavors. For the dad who loves his cocktail peanuts, line the par-baked shells with salted caramel and then a peanut butter mousse. Top with whipped cream and a liberal sprinkling of salted peanuts.