The bane of one waitress's life? The 10-year-old food snob.

Before she was one of Australia’s top restaurant critics, Larissa Dubecki was one of its worst waitresses. In this extract from hew new memoir Prick with a Fork she writes about the new breed of youngster – the child foodie.

There are kids these days who are restaurant connoisseurs. Truly. Ten-year-olds who visit high-end restaurants, order the spanner crab velouté followed by the pork belly with onion marmalade, then blog about it. Their classmates go to Little League on Saturdays. They go to farmers’ markets. Their classmates love improbable cartoons about talking penguins. They love improbable TV chef Rick Stein. Their classmates love fries. They love friands.

“Their classmates go to Little League…They go to farmer’s markets.” Image via Instagram.

This is a new breed of youngster—when the marketers get their hands on them they’ll be called something like iChild, or Kid 2.0— that simply didn’t exist a decade ago. Not even a wicked glint in that nice Jamie Oliver’s eye. I guess the reason they engender confusion, wariness, even horror, in other people is because they don’t conform to the norms of childhood. They’re more like grown-ups trapped in pre-pubescent bodies. All their parents have to do in the face of insolence is turn off Junior MasterChef and keep them from viewing other like-minded children weeping over a soufflé that just didn’t try hard enough. It’s way too easy.

When you’ve had kids of your own, you tend to stop judging. The minute you pop that baby out you’re bathed in the great truth that parenting is a long, hard slog, that we’re all in this together and that everyone’s choices have to be respected. On the other hand, self- evidently these children are precocious, over-entitled brats whose parents really ought to send them for an emergency session in the sandpit. No one under the age of consent should be conversant in the difference between the summer and winter truffle. (‘As I said to Mama the other day, the summer truffle is just expensive dirt,’ such a child might say in the seconds before I strangle her to death with a piping bag.) These children, not to mention the families that condone such grossly antisocial behaviours, ought to take a good, hard look at their screwed-up priorities.


Fluency in restaurants is something that ought to develop slowly, like a fossil, or a baby elephant, or a taste for prog-rock. Just as the grit creates the pearl, it is a process embedded in friction. The normal child will be tortured in a restaurant (‘restaurant’ in this case excluding anywhere that uses the phrase ‘meal deal’ and has seats bolted into the ground). To the normal under-ten set, a restaurant with linen, soft lighting and expected manners is Guantanamo Bay.

These sorts of restaurants are Guantanamo Bay for kids. Image via Instagram.

Those kiddie food bloggers who collect restaurant bragging rights in the same way their classmates collect footy cards are an inversion of nature. It’s a lot like babies who skip the crawling stage and go straight to walking. They might give their mothers a thrill. Playground bragging rights count for plenty in this world. But they also risk having an appointment at the therapist’s office a few years down the track, thanks to missing out on an important development milestone. Back you go, kiddo: down on all fours to fill in the neural gaps.

Ditto the mini-gourmand. Adolescents don’t bond over their fabulous, foie gras-filled childhoods. They don’t find friends by talking about friands, or artisanal bread, or first-press olive oil. They need pain. They require suffering. It is the parent’s sworn duty to give it to them. There is nothing wrong, for instance, with the McDonald’s party. It’s a rite of passage no less significant than discovering masturbation; double points if the Happy Meal is regurgitated on the playground after a spin in one of those whirly- gig contraptions built (I suspect) for that express purpose. Forget the Lego spaceship or the Star Wars light sabre with built-in sound- effects. This will be the gift that keeps on giving. That twirling vomitorium will be your child’s failsafe conversation-starter for years to come.

This is an extract from Prick With a Fork: The World’s Worst Waitress Spills the Beans by Larissa Dubecki, RRP $29.99 published by Allen & Unwin, available now here.