Celebrity chef Maria Goretti on staying in control when your kids ‘know everything’!

Her twitter handle reads (in this order) ZZ’s keeper (she’s mommy to Zeke Zidaan and Zene Zoe), television host, chef, advanced PADI diver, 1/2 marathoner, mountain climber and cookbook author. Whew. And she is just back from Paris (post six magical, gruelling weeks at an intensive patisserie course at Le Cordon Bleu), having polished up her baking prowess on whipping up the delectable Charlotte among a melee of other drool-worthy goodies. Now she is headed out again, this time to London, for an intensive upgradation of her yum pursuit. Celebrity chef Maria Goretti is busier than the proverbial bee. We were lucky enough to lock her in an indepth conversation in between her global trots.

Excerpts from a conversation with celebrity chef Maria Goretti

You are emotionally welded to your kids. How did you survive six full weeks without being around them?

Oh, I had great wi fi over there in Paris and did face-time with them every morning and every night. Their schools were shut for vacation at the same time, and Arshad (Warsi, her actor husband) was around at home. We had planned our schedules accordingly as one of us is always around for the children. So because they were fine, I was fine (smiles broadly).

For celebrity chef Maria Goretti, raising her kids with husband actor Arshad Warsi is a lovable, learning journey
Zeke (pronounced “Zeek”) is a teenager. Zene still has a few years to get there. What does their attitude spell?

“I know everything” (bursts into laughter). So that is the biggest change I am grappling with at the moment. They are pushing boundaries, slipping into the rebel mode.

And how are you handling this?

I have no clue (eyebrows reaching the ceiling) Honestly, I just go along with the flow. Some days I get it right, some days I am totally off the mark. There is no book that can ever guide you on raising children. It is personal trial and error. You just have to trust your own instincts and navigate yourself as a parent every day. So yes, there are instances when I lose my cool and hit the roof. On other occasions, I deal with issues very calmly, firmly.

So what kind of a mom are you—good, bad, ugly?

I think I am a pretty liberal mom. But there are certain limits, like no late night parties. I need to know, all the time, where you are and with whom. I explain stuff to them, reasons for saying “no” when I do, that there is no one to drop or pick them up…I talk a lot to them. I explain to them that this is the time to concentrate on studies. See, you have to strike a balance. You can’t clamp them down with too much parent control. But I always hear them out. The key lies in listening to kids.

And explaining as well, as you said. So for instance what are you explaining to Zene these days?

Children have more access to television and the web these days, to programmes that are age appropriate but also have characters dressing up in different styles. I am teaching her to respect all cultures. She is experimenting with different looks like all kids her age, and she needs to understand and respect what she can wear, where. As my teenage son is busy with football, playing drums…I find myself getting more time to spend with Zene. Just chatting, doing homework…

Shilpi Madan for Indian Express

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