Salena Hess says that her dad can really cook -- not just some things, but everything. He tries new dishes, tackles complicated recipes and makes delicious sandwiches out of leftovers. The 11-year-old from Arlington says, "My dad's cooking is an amazing thing in my life."
Adam Hess, the weekend chef at the Hesses', is one of many fathers who have cooking duties at home. Around the Washington area, dads are grilling, baking and experimenting. They're cooking for pleasure, to carry on traditions, to feed their families well and to pass on their love of good food. So their kids want us to know this about them:
* Venkat Iyer, a 12-year-old from Herndon, never knows what he'll find in his lunchbox. Creativity is the name of the game when his father, Arun Iyer, does the cooking. For Venkat, a typical brown-bag school lunch might contain fresh tomato and mozzarella slices sandwiched between pesto-slathered slices of toasting bread.
* Nathan Clukey takes his daughter Abby, 7, into their Falls Church backyard to gather ingredients for their "secret sauce." Then they head back to the kitchen to create the sauce together.
* Stay-at-home dad Stavros Cologer packs a lot of cooking into his schedule in his Annapolis home. His kids, 7-year-old Themi and 10-year-old Sophia, rave about his mashed potatoes, cinnamon butter apples and just about everything else he prepares.
The list goes on. When we asked kids to write to us about their dads, e-mail us they did: We learned about cooking by instinct and baking from recipes, about dads who can make anything and those who have specialties. We met some dads who have perfected just one dish, but what a dish!
Here are some of their stories, and, of course, their recipes.