NOAH DAN WITH MICHELLE, 8, OF POTOMAC
* Michelle Dan is ready to go into business with her dad. "Every time people come over to dinner with us, they say my dad should open a restaurant," she says. Noah Dan experiments with different cooking traditions, but there's one dish that means a lot to his family, and that's busara, an Italian pasta with shellfish. Dan's family comes from Trieste, Italy. Though the family kept kosher at home, on their excursions into bordering Yugoslavia, they would eat busara in osterie, informal restaurants operating outside of the state-run tourist industry. For Dan, "the sight, smell and taste of busara is etched upon my memory." For Michelle, it's the hint of their Italian ancestry that connects her, as she explains, with "his Italian grandmother who taught him to cook."
STEVE HIMELFARB WITH JOE BERLIN, 12, OF WASHINGTON
Grilled Crusted Salmon With Mango-White Peach Salsa and Glaze
* If there were an election for Best Dad Cooking, Joe Berlin would be campaign manager. "My dad is the best cook," he reports. Steve Himelfarb's specialties include perfectly cooked steaks, a variety of seafood and innovative spicing. "He makes so many different kinds of incredible, amazing food that I could go on and on describing. So I think I'll sum it up right here: I've never sat down to one of my dad's dinners without the first word out of my mouth being, 'Yum.' "
RICHARD FOLKERS WITH CHRISTINA, 8, AND KELLY, 15, OF GARRETT PARK
* Richard Folkers started cooking for his family when he was 12. His working mother left him recipes to follow, and he learned to cook by trial and error. "Dad is the most innovative chef. He doesn't make the same dish twice," reports Christina. He relaxes while watching "Iron Chef," and he's something of an iron chef himself. Kelly says, "He can open a pantry, look at what ingredients we have and still make something delicious."
BEN CHIKKASWAMY WITH ANISH, 2, AND DANIELLE, 9, OF NORTH POTOMAC
Grilled Lamb Steaks With Mint Chutney
* Danielle Chikkaswamy doesn't mince words: "My dad, Ben, is the best cook on the planet." Danielle's favorite dishes include almost anything her father marinates and grills. "The secret is in his recipe for marinades," she explains. She's also pretty proud of his curries. Mom cooks, too, but Danielle's hoping it's Dad at the stove or grill every night because, as she says, "his food always comes out good."
JULIAN RICHARDS WITH KIANA, 11, OF COLUMBIA
Salt Fish With Johnnycakes
* Cafeteria ladies, step aside. Julian Richards's daughter is not buying what they are selling at school. "I think if my Dad made the school lunches, more people would buy because his hamburgers are better than other adults'," Kiana proclaims. Hamburgers aside, Kiana's dad's specialty is johnnycakes with salt fish. They're a favorite in his native Aruba, and Kiana's sure he has perfected them. "When my Dad first made them, I didn't think fish would be good for breakfast," she explains, but now "I love when he makes johnnycakes and salt fish."
TODD TROUTMAN WITH BRADLEY, 10, OF WARRENTON
* When Bradley Troutman's family moved back to Virginia from France, he and his brother missed the ever-present food of France, the crepe. Enter Dad, who uses an all-American griddle to concoct dessert crepes for his kids. Bradley loves the strawberry version, while his brother TJ favors bananas. Dad obliges. "Every weekend is special when he makes the crepes," says Bradley.
EDWARD KESSLER OF SUMMIT, N.J., AND DAVID KESSLER, 51,
OF SILVER SPRING
American Apple Pie
* Edward Kessler could not let the Kessler pie baking tradition die, so he literally took matters into his own hands. He had never baked and was well into his fifties when he began a series of baking classes, excursions to cooking stores and a short apprenticeship. All his work has led to, boasts his son, David Kessler of Silver Spring, "peach and apple pies as close to perfection as pies can be."