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Best Family Restaurant Winner: PizzaExpress

Emma Woods, Marketing Director of PizzaExpress, winners of the Best Restaurant category of the Junior Design Awards, shares her tips on family-friendly dining

Posted: 27 May 2011
by Catherine O'Dolan

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Emma Woods, mother of Megan, 12, Ella, nine, Conor, six, and Charlie, four, shares her foodie favourites

What’s your earliest food memory? My Dad making homemade pizza. It was pretty basic – just a homemade dough base and tinned tomatoes and grated cheese. But made with love.
What foods did you like and dislike as a child? My parents were into home cooking and health food and my memory is of being subjected to brown rice and lentil concoctions, which as a child I really didn't like (although love now!).
What did you have for school dinners? All I remember fondly about school dinners were the sponge puddings (and custard).
Do you have any cooking heroes? Has to be Delia Smith. My Mum used her cooking books of the 70s and 80s obsessively and I followed suit.
Who is your greatest foodie inspiration? I have had the privilege at PizzaExpress of working with both Theo Randall and Francesco Mazzei on food collaborations - they both are truly inspirational chefs.
What was the first thing you ever cooked? Macaroni cheese.
What’s your worst cooking disaster? A risotto I cooked once in Mexico, where the guests decided to turn up late. By the time they arrived, it had sat around in the heat and tasted like warm potatoes.
What would be your perfect family dinner? A Sunday roast cooked by my husband, the chef in our family. Kids, wine, banter…
How often do you eat as a family? We try to eat together for most meals at the weekend and if we are lucky, one night in the week.
Do you have any tips on encouraging good table manners? Sadly not…
Any golden rules for raising a happy eater? Love food yourself.
What’s the best way to tempt a fussy eater? With enthusiasm, not pressure.
What’s the most unusual thing your children eat? My children love curry.
What’s your favourite cookbook and why? Nigel Slator's Real Food - foolproof recipes and delicious.
What’s your favourite restaurant and why? Now that's a difficult one… I think it might have to be PizzaExpress Reigate, as that's where I've had the most happy family meals
What’s your food guilty pleasure? Dough balls.
Where do you dine out with your children? We eat in PizzaExpress as a family and have done since the kids were little. Everyone has a favourite and feels relaxed.
What would you do if your child had a tantrum in a restaurant? Try to distract them by starting to colour in something with them. If that fails, suggest a trip to see the chefs cooking. That's why at PizazExpress we always try to have piccolo packs full of things to do and draw and our pizzaioloas are trained to welcome children coming up to view their work.
Do you think families should be more encouraged to dine out in restaurants? I think it's wonderful the number of really good family restaurant now available. It is such progress from when I was growing up.

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family restaurants, family dining, Pizza Express, Junior Design Awards

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