The audience favourite of Masterchef Australia series 4 not only embraces multiple cultures in the kitchen – she travels with her kids Alex (10) and Andre (8) regularly and tries to take them on an overseas holiday at least once a year. Audra Morrice chats to suitcases&strollers about her favourite family holidays and shares some tips on introducing foreign foods to kids who are fussy little eaters.
Do you think it is important to travel with kids?
Absolutely! We live in a hugely multicultural society and exposure leads to acceptance and openness about other cultural differences.
What do you think kids get out of travel that they don't get from staying at home?
Travelling really helps to broaden our children's minds and [increases their] knowledge about the world in many ways. It opens their eyes to how people live in other countries, their culture and traditions, their language, cuisine etc. What it also does is give families an opportunity to spend quality time and experience new adventures together.
What do your kids enjoy about travel?
Funny enough, they love the fact that they can watch hours of movies on the flight! The long flights don't phase them at all. They love trying new types of food, seeing new places and generally look forward to the outdoor adventures especially if they involve water.
Do you have a regular family holiday destination you go to?
We visit Singapore annually to visit grandparents and I want my kids to familiarise themselves with one half of their heritage. Other than that, we generally like visiting new places. Over the past few years, we've been to Penang, Malaysia, Bali, Indonesia and New Zealand.
Where was your favourite place to take your kids on holiday?
Bali was wonderful. There was a good balance of activities for both adults and kids. I am big on cultural exploration particularly with food…so much of our holidays revolve around eating! [For the travel guide to family-friendly restaurants in Bali, see the suitcases&strollers story here.]
Where has been your kids' favourite place to go on holiday?
I think the kids really loved New Zealand where my husband is from. They saw snow for the first time and spent hours falling into it. Skiing was a major highlight of the trip. They were captivated by the pristine ice blue glacial water salmon farms and had the freshest salmon sashimi straight from the farm. The luge was a real hit, it was fast and scary, what more would boys want?
Their favourite dining spot was The Cow, an institution in Queenstown for great pizzas and homemade bread with lashings of butter. To top it off, they got to travel in a campervan and couldn't rave on enough about it! [For more travel tips on things to do in Queenstown with kids, see the suitcases&strollers stories Ski New Zealand: Queenstown and Queenstown With Bindi Irwin.]
Where is the one place in the world that your kids haven't been that you want to take them to visit?
There are countless places I would like to take my children. However, having just been to Cambodia and seeing how poor much of this country is, I really want to expose them to life in some of these places. As much as holidays are about having fun, sometimes it's about the simple things, appreciation of life and giving back where you can. [To read more about introducing kids to poverty, read the suitcases&strollers story here.]
Your cooking reflects a lot of different cultural influences. How does cooking and food expose children to other cultures?
Food is intrinsically linked to culture. The way people cook reflects where they come from, their traditions and what they have learnt from past generations. It reflects the society they live in and their environment. The more exposed children are to food of different cultures, the more they will learn about these cultures. It's important that we teach our children to eat intelligently.
For families worries about going on holidays to destinations with “exotic” with kids, what are some of your tricks for introducing kids to new flavours?
You really want to get them excited about the food. Start with fun and differently presented food that you can associate with different cultures or destinations. Go to places where you can order a variety of dishes so that they can try as many as possible. Bring them to the markets and let them see the colourful and different types of fruit, for example. Finally, lead by example. Show them by eating and enjoying these “exotic” foods. Often with children, it's all about taking that first step to try something new. You'll be surprised what might follow. [To read more about introducing foreign foods to fussy eaters, read the suitcases&strollers interview with celebrity chef Emmanuel Stroobant here.]
Where is your next family holiday destination?
Next year we are planning a trip to Chiang Mai, Thailand and Japan. Chiang Mai because we have never been and a dear old friend of mine currently lives there. Japan is to visit my husband's maternal grandmother and to totally immerse ourselves in one of our favourite destinations for its food, culture and sheer scenic wonders.
What are your top three tips for organising a successful family holiday?
1. Plan your itinerary well by balancing daily adults and kids activities. This will create a win-win situation and make potential negotiations with the children a lot easier if need be.
2. Bring along some kids activity packs (novels/books, drawing kits, iPads with a selection of movies/songs). There will be times when you may have to keep them entertained unexpectedly.
3. Give kids the opportunity to provide input into organising the trip. If they are younger, get them to help pack. If they are older, get them to read/research about places they are about to visit prior to getting there. This will create much excitement.
To read the suitcases&strollers story by MasterChef Australia winner Julie Goodwin, click here.