MasterChef No More…

Been a while since I’ve eaten a slice of humble pie and had to apologise to one – or more – of the family. Still, no worries: we can put that right here and now.

A couple of weeks ago I had a small rant at Ben and Jessica. They hadn’t tidied the kitchen. School holidays. Home all day. Make the simplest thing possible while Mum and Dad are out. Leave the mess. Mum and Dad return. Cue rant.

Well pass the humble pie, ladies and gentlemen. Time to tuck into this week’s helping. And even by my standards, quite a large slice…

Because the two of them have returned to the kitchen and they’ve started to cook. In fact, if this summer holiday has a theme it’s Teach Yourself to Cook.

“Dad, I need to learn how to do scrambled eggs.”

“OK, no problem, son. When I was a boy scrambled eggs were – ”

“I don’t need a history lesson, Dad. I’m hungry.”

“OK. Take this jug. Two eggs. A bit of butter. Ditto milk. Salt and pepper. Beat it. Into the microwave. Check every thirty seconds. Keep stirring. Job done.”

“Is that it?”

“Yep. Obviously you have to co-ordinate your toast…”

But Ben was in shock. “That’s all there is to scrambled eggs? So why do you make so much fuss when you do them?”

That night it was one of my specialties. Mediterranean Sausage, with a delicate tomato and chilli sauce, served with assorted pasta shapes.

“Can you show me how to do that as well, Dad?”

“OK. Stick the sausages – good ones from the butchers – in the big orange pan. Half cook them. Chop them into bite-sized pieces. And then you just wallop this sauce on top of them. Low heat. Thirty minutes. Job done. Again.”

My son stared at me. “That’s all you do? Pour a bottle of sauce on them?”

“Pretty much.”

“So you just stand in the kitchen drinking red wine and checking your e-mails and come in and tell us how hard you’ve been working?”

Hmmm… Maybe I was giving away too many trade secrets. But my son was learning…

And now it was time to take my life in my hands. I’d agreed to teach my beloved daughter how to make Spaghetti Carbonara.

“You need a couple of extra egg yolks. So for four of us…three eggs plus two extra yolks.”

“I need to know how to make it for one. You, Mum and Ben aren’t coming to university with me.”

“You won’t be cooking on your own.”

“Obviously I will. And you’re cracking the eggs all wrong.”

I tried to reassure my daughter that within a week of arriving at university she’d have more friends than she could shake a wooden spoon at and wouldn’t ‘cook for one’ for the rest of the year. But it was her Dad talking, so obviously it was nonsense.

As was my cooking. “That’s too much parmesan.” “You don’t need that much crème fraiche. No wonder you’re so fat.” And, of course, “Thanks, Dad. But you’ve made a bit of a mess. Can you tidy the kitchen now?”

Ah well. All part of being a Dad. At least I could console myself with a bacon sandwich. Two prime rashers, cunningly hidden away…

“Hi, Dad. I’m getting really good at this cooking. I found some bacon – ”

“That was…”

“And I taught myself to make bacon sandwiches. They were awesome.” Ben paused – and looked reflective. “Actually Dad now I can make my own bacon sandwiches I don’t think we need you any more.”

And with those words my 14 year old son plunged a bacon sandwich straight through my heart…

Thanks for reading this post. If you enjoyed it, you can buy the ‘Best Dad I Can Be’ sample book with 27 of my favourite posts covering all the years I’ve been writing: it’s all of 77p on your Kindle. Alternatively the first chronological book, ‘Half Dad Half Fish’ which covers the time when the children were 9, 7 and 4 is available here


  1. Let’s just hope he doesn’t ruin your favourite flying pan / blow up the microwave in the process.

  2. But doesn’t this mean he’ll also make you bacon sandwiches too, like any loving son would?? Or am I being an optimistic (delusional) ‘new’ parent?…..

  3. Another great post, Mark.

    Anybody who has grown up children can identify with feeling like a spare part. When my son visits me, (he’s 21 in a few days) he pats me on the head and says “You’re so small!”. Then he shoves my face under his arm pit and says “Sniff up, Ma!”. I was once his everything… *sighs*

    It’s our job as parents to train our little darlings up for the big wide world but the moment when you know that your child no longer needs you is an emotional one.. You smile and acknowledge their independence but there is a crack as your heart breaks. The good news is that red wine was invented for such moments. It’s medicinal! 😉

    I think that you are a wonderful Dad. 😉

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