Follow These Dad Food Writers for Cooking Hacks and Family Recipes

These home cooks share how food has helped them bond with their kids.

Derek Campanile with his son and daughter, ​​Brayden and Makenzie | Photo courtesy of Derek Campanile
Derek Campanile with his son and daughter, ​​Brayden and Makenzie | Photo courtesy of Derek Campanile

The mom blog empire is a vast and crowded space, filled with confessional tales of parenthood, advice on raising healthy children, and plenty of family recipes to fill countless cookbooks. But plenty of dads have also gotten into the game—providing usable tips and tricks to raise mindful eaters, recipes for creative lunch box ideas, or birthday party snacks that impress.

Derek Campanile started his blog Dad With a Pan as a “hobby-first” project and today has amassed a following of more than 50,000 on his various social media channels.

“I have had a tremendous passion for food and cooking since I was young,” he says. “I remember my mother teaching me how to cook eggs at age 8 and, ever since, I’ve always loved learning new recipes and constantly tweaking favorites to see if I can make them better.”

His website consists of thousands of recipes that he makes alongside his young son and daughter, ​​Brayden and Makenzie, in their Southern California home. They’ve whipped up everything from brisket mac and cheese and steak and egg tostadas to fried peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and grilled s’more cookies.

Photo courtesy of Derek Campanile

“Growing up, we always gathered at the dinner table every night, enjoying mom’s cooking or dad’s barbecue,” Campanile writes on his website. “Now that I’m a father, I see the importance of having that same routine and I want to instill that in my kids by not making it a chore, but something they look forward to.”

For Denver-based Nick Evans, documenting his recipes started as a necessity when his then-girlfriend “wasn’t very fond of cooking.” So in 2008, he started Macheesmo as a space that would help both men and women build confidence around cooking, and his website now hosts more than 2,000 recipes.

“I live with my wife and our official taste-testers, our boy Theo, our girl, Darby, our dog, Porter, and our cat, Tipsy,” he says. He’s even published a cookbook, Love Your Leftovers, that showcases how to best reuse food—think a roast chicken turning into chicken tortilla soup or creamy chicken pesto pasta or a flank steak becoming spicy beef wontons or Vietnamese noodle salad.

Photo courtesy of Nick Evans

The food writer lifestyle has even allowed Evans to be more present as a parent. “I get to coach the soccer team and never miss a dance performance,” he says. “It makes everything a little easier on the family calendar.”

Food has also been a bonding moment for Beau Coffren, who has run Lunch Box Dad for the past 10 years, since his daughter started kindergarten. The Oklahoma City-based dad now has three kids and plenty of lunchbox making under his belt.

“I wanted her to take a special lunch to school and when she would look at it, it would let her know that I was thinking about her,” he says. “I started the blog soon after that to keep a record of our lunches and to encourage other parents to cook meals for their kids.”

Lunchbox Dad
Lunchbox Dad

Coffron’s creativity seemingly knows no bounds, artfully designing a kiwi to look like Baby Yoda or decorating a Babybel cheese to mimic the Spiderman logo.

But these parents who have made careers out of cooking insist it isn’t all just carefree days in the kitchen. There’s a lot that goes into keeping the social media accounts buzzing while maintaining fresh content and an engaged audience.

“Blogging isn’t just taking a few photos,” Campanile says. “There is SEO keyword research, crafting all your social posts, and exploring video content creation—there’s a whole beast to tame there.” He adds with a laugh: “And bribing your kids to take a photo with you.”

“Sometimes, the overall experience can also be an isolating one,” Evans admits. “But I’m very connected to thousands of readers and cooks all over the world via social media. The world is a huge place, and I find new people to connect with every single day and it’s wonderful.”

Coffron agrees, saying that his website has provided a reassuring outlet for other parents. “There is an online community out there that is happy to come together and support each other,” he says. “The internet doesn't have to always be a dark space but it can be a space filled with love, support, and positivity, too.”

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Sonal Ved is a Thrillist contributor and the author of Tiffin: 500 Authentic Recipes Celebrating India’s Regional Cuisine. She is the content lead at India Food Network and Tastemade India, and the food editor at Vogue India.