Ben Yeo: My cookbooks are my gift to my children

June 04, 2018
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    To many parents, cooking at home may be just a time-consuming chore. But celebrity dad Ben Yeo treasures this time.

    “It’s something that words cannot describe,” he says. The 40-year-old points out that his two children – Javier, nine; and Jarius, six – might not appreciate it now, but he hopes that they can look back when they are older and remember that their father loved cooking for them.

    The actor-host-restaurateur dad also believes that kids develop an affinity to certain flavours and tastes based on home-cooked meals, and this will bring back memories later on.

    Related: Here’s why we love Ben Yeo as a father

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    Naturally, his kids are the reason behind his two cookbooks – Cooking for Kids, which offers recipes for babies from five months and five years old; and Healthy Meals for Kids, which has recipes and tips on how to create a well-balanced diet for picky eaters aged five to 12.

    “The whole idea of publishing these cookbooks is for them. It’s my gift to them, and I hope they will use them for reference when they cook for their own children one day,” adds Ben, who will be speaking at The Little Skool House’s parent-child bonding workshop, presented by Young Parents, in August.

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    But as much as the devoted dad loves cooking for his tykes, his hectic schedule prevents him from hitting the kitchen occasionally. This explains why he tries to involve them in the filming of his online cooking show, Play Kitchen, as much as possible.

    “My sons love helping out on the show. But filming takes place every Thursday and they have school on Friday, so it’s quite difficult for them to come every week.

    Related: Actor Ben Yeo: I became more emotional after becoming a dad

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    “However I’m planning to shift this to the weekends so they can help out more often,” he adds.

    Scroll through his social media musings, and you’ll spot his sons helping out, too – from wrapping dumplings to helping add the ingredients.

    These cooking sessions are precious opportunities to build a strong relationship with them, he feels.

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  • Making learning fun
    5 / 8 Making learning fun

    Besides cooking, the fun-loving dad bonds with his boys over various sports like swimming and soccer, and playing video games on Playstation and Wii, as well.

    At times, he will also help them with their schoolwork, even though, he confesses, he’s “not a good teacher”.

    “I’ll try to teach them Mandarin because I’m better in this subject than my wife (Claudia Cheong, 40). But I can’t teach because I don’t have the patience – and I’m still working hard on that.”

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    Unlike Tiger parents who focus on their kids’ academic success, Ben is not an advocate of the paper chase.

    “I always tell my children, as long as they’ve worked hard, it’s okay to get bad results, Daddy won’t be angry. But if they are lazy and they attain bad results, then they have to accept the consequences,” he explains.

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    As much as he wants to let his children grow up in a stress-free academic environment, the change in learning standards and growing prevalence of tuition leave him with no choice but to send them for extra classes.

    “Only Mandarin and English”, he emphasises. In fact, it was his wife who insisted on it, so the couple settled for classes that support meaningful learning, as opposed to the traditional rote learning.

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    Not only does he want to make learning fun for his kids, he also fiercely protects their childhood by not rehashing his bad day at work when he’s home. This is the toughest part about being a dad, he admits.

    While fatherhood has changed his life profoundly, his tip for dads is simple: To “have fun, enjoy the journey, and communicate with your kids more”.

    (Photos: Instagram/benyeo23)

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