Chef Marc Forgione understands the power of good branding. Nearly every morning, the famously mohawked restauranteur makes Sonny, his 3-year-old son, what is ostensibly a frittata. It’s a simple, healthy recipe that’s easy to prepare and a great vessel for leftover vegetables. Plus, Sonny loves eggs. But Forgione wanted to make it a bit more special, a little more exciting to a toddler’s hands and sensibilities, so he cut it into pie-like slices and dubbed his creation “Eggy Pizza.”
Frittata? Meh. Eggy Pizza? That’s way better.
“Eggy Pizza is a perfect example of taking something mundane that we do every day — preparing breakfast — and making it a little bit more playful,” says Forgione. “Sometimes it has zucchini it, sometimes it has tomatoes. We made one yesterday that had broccoli and onions that were from dinner the day before. Whatever it is, Sonny gets excited. It's like, ‘Hey. You want to make Eggy Pizza?" And he's like, ‘Yeah!’”
Whether cooking for customers or his own child, Forgione tries to follow the same principles. “I treat Sonny the same way I treat guests at my restaurants,” he says. “I make things you’ve had before just a little bit more fun.”
Playfulness has always defined Forgione’s cooking. The son of legendary chef Larry Forgione, he began working in kitchens when he was 16. He opened Restaurant Marc Forgione at the age of 29 and became the youngest American chef to ever receive consecutive Michelin stars. He’s also the owner of American Cut steakhouse and, after winning season three of Next Iron Chef, the youngest person to ever earn the title of Iron Chef.
Recently, Forgione was handed the keys to Peasant, the celebrated lower east side rustic Italian restaurant. He devised Eggy Pizza while dreaming up its new menu.
“I've been making a lot of pizza at Peasant,” he says. “And one morning, I was making Sonny his breakfast, and something just clicked in me. I was like, ‘Oh. This is kind of like pizza.”
Forgione’s demanding schedule means he’s rarely, if ever, home for dinner (he and his wife usually roast batches of vegetables on Monday to streamline family meal prep for the week). Breakfast, then, is prized father-son time, and Eggy Pizza has become an important part of their morning routine.
“In the morning, he’ll get up and have some yogurt. Then we’ll play some games or read some books. And then it’s eggy time. He gets very excited about it. He pitches in, whisking the eggs. And then we sit and eat together,” says Forgione.
The ritual helps ground Forgione in the moment. “Maybe I’m a little bit biased because I’m a chef. But with food, you’re supposed to share time. It’s about eating with people and enjoying the moment.”
Forgione says he’s lucky that Sonny’s always been an eater, so he doesn’t have to spend much of his time convincing him to take bites.
“Whether it’s nature or nurture, I don’t know. But he genuinely enjoys eating,” he says. “I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that we’ve never really made him something different than what we eat, or ordered off a kid's menu.”
Of course, there are times when Sonny tests his dad’s boundaries. “He’s a kid, and I think even sometimes when he’s around other kids that do the ‘don't like that da da da,” he'll mimic it,’ says Forgione.
But when that happens, Forgione and his wife do have a tactic. “We don’t do the whole ‘you can’t get up until you eat’ thing. But I just look at him and say ‘Well, I know you’re hungry. So, if you're not going to eat it, you're not going to eat it, but I'm not making something else.’ And it seems to work for me.”
For parents who might not be confident in the kitchen, Forgione’s advice is to start simple.
“I think the Eggy Pizza is a perfect example,” he says. “You don’t have to be a professional chef to make it. And if you just take a moment to sit down and eat with your kids — even if you only have five minutes that day — you’d be surprised at how much the kid really appreciates it.”
Every night, Forgione and his wife always ask Sonny about the best parts of his day. “You'd be surprised at how many times he says making eggies with daddy this morning makes the list.”
Marc Forgione’s “Eggy Pizza” Recipe
- 2 eggs
- 1 Tbs Pecorino Romano
- 10 ¼ in round slices of zucchini
- 1 garlic clove, still in the skin
- 2 Tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Season and sauté the zucchini rounds in a small sauté pan with 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and the garlic clove until cooked. Discard the garlic and set aside zucchini until cooled.
- Whisk the eggs with the cheese and fold in the zucchini.
- Heat a little more Extra Virgin Olive Oil (just to coat the bottom of a chemical-free non-stick six-inch pan).
- Add the egg mixture, turn the heat to low, and cover. Cook for 3-4 min or until set.
- Slide onto a cutting board and slice into 6 triangles (so they look like pizza slices).
- Drizzle a little more oil and a little more cheese if the child wants, and serve.