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Smart Living | Lifestyle

Lifestyle | 17 Nov 2021

MasterChef finalist’s top tip for screen-free dinnertimes

While Vodafone Pro Broadband customers can use the new Dinnertime Alexa skill to help get everyone around the table, that’s just one tool in a parent’s arsenal.

MasterChef finalist, TV chef and cookbook author Dean Edwards has come a long way from his days as a digger driver. But as a parent, he still faces a familiar, everyday challenge: getting his daughter Indiana to put down her tablet and come to the dinner table.

Dean, however, has a secret trick up his chef’s sleeve that he shares with all parents.

“Make mealtimes fun – it’s as simple as that,” he tells Vodafone UK News. “Make it fun, make it an experience. Get the kids involved in the cooking, even if it’s just stirring the pot and tasting it.”

While Dean relies on internet-connected devices in his daily life just like anyone else, he firmly believes that mealtimes should be tech-free zones.

“It’s important to just get that time where you can all switch off from outside distractions and catch up with your family,” he says.

For Dean, there’s one particular reason why he especially values having screenless, distraction-free mealtimes with his daughter.

“We’re losing the art of conversation and that’s one thing that I really worry about for our children – children find it more comfortable to have conversations online than face-to-face with someone.”

While Dean is helping to spread the word about the new Dinnertime Alexa skill for customers of Vodafone Pro Broadband with Alexa Built-in, he isn’t above using treats to help shift his daughter from tablet-to-table.

“As a parent, a bribe is always a handy thing to have in your locker to be honest – hot chocolate, a nice slice of cake, a cupcake or pancakes.”

As a chef and parent, Dean is also keen that his daughter doesn’t stay strictly within her culinary comfort zone.

“I want her to be adventurous with food. Getting your kids to try new foods, new recipes, new ingredients – it’s pretty tough. What I’ve always said to her is: ‘try it’. If you don’t like it, I’ll never ask you to try it again.”

Reflecting on his time on the long-running hit series MasterChef back in 2006, he says: “I was hugely shy – I had massive confidence issues as well. So MasterChef helped me grow as a person.”

If there’s a common thread running through all of Dean’s roles as chef, parent and digital downtime advocate, then it’s the importance of personal growth and change – for adults and young people alike.

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