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by Kate McMahon

This one’s for all the dads out there, especially those who have logged significant hours at the stove.

Though this week’s Father’s Day promotions tout “gifts for the griller,” sites across the internet and a new book are toasting the Dad who does it all in the kitchen. Think of him as a culinary Renaissance Man, who can sift, sauté, choose the perfect artisanal brew or fine wine, and whip up a healthy meal that even a finicky four-year-old would relish. With wit and humor.

Certainly the ascendancy of the all-powerful “mommy bloggers” has commanded the limelight in social media and marketing circles. So today we turn to the paterfamilias and their words that reveal a more complete snapshot of today’s family, where work, shopping and cooking really are shared endeavors.

Where better to start than John Donohue’s entertaining new book, “Man With a Pan: Culinary Adventures of Fathers Who Cook for Their Families” (Algonquin, $15.95). Donohue, 42, a New Yorker editor and cartoonist, is also the author of a very witty blog, For his book, he has collected tales, musings and more than 60 recipes from an eclectic array of contributors including uber chef/restaurateur Mario Batali, writer/foodie Mark Bittman and novelist Stephen King, along with “everyday heroes” from across the country. They choose to cook for a variety of reasons – sheer enjoyment, to curry favor with their spouse, or to keep the family budget in check during difficult economic times.

Donohue notes that cooking went from a pleasurable sideline to a necessity for him after the birth of two daughters and ensuing lack of sleep, domestic stress and financial instability: “I ducked into the kitchen. I went in a coward and came out a conquering hero.”

He cites studies confirming that more men are sharing family meal preparation responsibilities, and not just “stunt cooking” for big occasions or “manning” the grill. As award-winning chef and author Mark Kulansky writes, “Sorry, fella, it doesn’t count unless you are doing it every day.”

Being part of the every day domestic mix runs through, a lifestyle website launched by Procter & Gamble. Food preparation and health are major components of the site, along with advice and forums on home repair, relationships and child-rearing.

And delivering healthy meals to veggie-resistant kids on a daily basis peppers the commentary in notable “Dad blogs” such as:


Though not Dad-specific, two other sites definitely worth perusing are, which aims to make each reader “a better cook, a healthier eater, a more astute imbiber, a smarter man” and the Eat Like A Man blog on Both are excellent windows into what is important to men who know their way around the kitchen and the wine cellar.

There are two takeaways here:

For retailers, marketers and service providers, it’s a reminder that family dynamics and economics are constantly evolving. To best serve your consumer, you need to get to know them, their passions and their budgets, and strive to connect with them. And social media provides a myriad of opportunities to do just that.

For families, it’s a reminder that preparing meals is about more than putting food on the table or achieving nutritional balance. As Donohue said in an interview, “Food is a metaphor for love.”

To every Dad at the stove, Happy Father’s Day.

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