Executive chief chef of Costa Vida, Dave Prows is a Bountiful resident who believes the idea of the dinner table in Utah's families has disappeared. "There has always been a dinner table," said Prows. "Even through the Dark Ages, people gathered around a central object to talk. And the one thing they always have in common is food."
The dinner table has always brought families together. "It's been a communal idea throughout history. You always have people say, 'Some of my best memories are from sitting at the table for dinner,'" said Prows. "Talk with your parents and grandparents, and they will tell you dinner was an appointment. You dressed nice, had a spot to sit and bonded as a family."
Prows believes that 20-30 percent of the problems with youth today would be taken care of if we could just bring back the dinner table. And he has some ideas to begin bringing that back.
"In school, the basic principles of cooking I learned had to do with stock," said Prows.
Stock is what he believes families could start with to help bring back the dinner table. Stock is "left-over" chicken, beef, seafood or any other meat you like to eat that can be used to make sauce.
"When you cook your big Sunday dinner, cook extra," said Prows. "Cook enough to freeze portion-sized bags." From the extra chicken you cook, you can have salads, soups, sandwiches and pastas ready for the rest of the week.
To make a sauce from stock, all you really need are thickening agents. "A lot of people are afraid to try it out because they don't know how to do it," said Prows. But all you do is add flour or corn starch to thicken something up, and water or lemon juice to make it thinner.
"Then the idea is to prepare for tomorrow while your dinner is heating up," said Prows.
While you have frozen chicken or beef heating in the oven for maybe half an hour, chop some vegetables and cook some noodles to stash away in the fridge for tomorrow's dinner.
"The key thing is to have your stock built up. If you have that, dinner will take about a half an hour to prepare," said Prows. He even suggested buying stock like chicken broth in a can if you still don't feel like you have time to cook.
Prows blames fast food, microwave dinners and busy schedules for the disappearance of the dinner table. "Even if all you do is grab something from Burger King, don't take it down to watch TV. Set it on the table and eat there," said Prows. When he thought about this problem, he wondered what he could do to change it. "Having stock is basically the way a chef runs a kitchen," he said. "Families can do that at home, too."
To take the first step, sit down and write what you like to eat. Figure out the one day you can spend time to cook and make the stock. Then at least you have it for any ideas that come up. The next step is to go through a cookbook and see what recipes look good to you. Then just keep trying.
Prows would like to put his ideas into a book, but if he can promote the general idea of bringing back the dinner table, families might be better off. "If you can spend just a half an hour sitting around the dinner table two or three times a week, you would get to know your family better."