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Father Knows Food puts cooking for kids on the front-burner

Father Knows Food airs at 4 p.m. Tuesday on Colorado Public Television.
Father Knows Food airs at 4 p.m. Tuesday on Colorado Public Television.
Jenna Reynolds

Documenting kitchen time may not seem like a top priority when you're wrangling a three-year-old and a two-year-old and have a third child on the way, but at the home of Peter and Jenna Reynolds, it's become just another part of the chaos of being new parents. The two started a YouTube cooking show last year that showcases Peter's talents as both dad and chef, and over the past year they developed it into a thirty-minute TV series that's running on Colorado Public Television this summer.

See also: Frank Bonanno travels Colorado's culinary landscape in Chef Driven

Though Peter grew up cooking with his parents and worked in a few restaurant kitchens, he never had any formal training as a chef; he's a real estate agent. After he married Jenna, he would try to recreate dishes that they'd eaten in restaurants. But once they started have kids, it became a whole new ballgame. "It just kind of exploded into cooking every day and having kids and making food for them and trying to maintain sanity with little kids," Peter says.

Since Jenna is an Emmy-nominated supervising producer for the Food Network's Giada at Home , they decided to document Peter's efforts on Father Knows Food. "It's kind of our weekend, labor-of-love job that we've done on the side," Jenna says.

Peter Reynolds and his kids, Dabney and Colt, cook and eat (respectively) on the set of Father Knows Food.
Peter Reynolds and his kids, Dabney and Colt, cook and eat (respectively) on the set of Father Knows Food.
Jenna Reynolds

The niche they have settled into is a show for dads who cook -- whether full time or just sometimes -- as well as anybody who wants a good, easy meal. "Today, in most households, both parents work, so we are just trying to show that the mom isn't always cooking dinner," Jenna says. "That's his kitchen more than it is my kitchen."

"I think it's important for people to realize that they can do it all," Peter says. "Hell, if I can do it: I'm not a trained chef and I can do all of these things and I can do them pretty well."

Though plenty of men cook on TV, the couple wanted to create a series that would qualify as a male lifestyle show, because there aren't many on the market. They also wanted to showcase the things they do in their home state of Colorado -- another empty niche in the food TV genre. "We don't want to make it all about Colorado because we want to appeal to a larger audience eventually, but we love Colorado," Peter says. "We want to showcase what we think is the greatest state in the union."

"We might not have that culinary history [in Colorado]. but we still have a lifestyle that is very obtainable and people would love to have," Jenna says.

Since the show is named Father Knows Food and not Coloradan Knows Food, their children are featured in every episode. "The kids are totally the stars of the show," Peter says.

Two-year-old Dabney confirms that she loves being on camera. She also says she "eats it all."

"My favorite thing to do is eating cupcakes with my school class," says three-year-old Colt, referencing one of the episodes in which Peter made food for Colt's class.

"The kids aren't acting," Peter says.

"You get what you get," Jenna says.

The Reynolds family prepares food in their own kitchen -- the kitchen in the show belongs to a friend.
The Reynolds family prepares food in their own kitchen -- the kitchen in the show belongs to a friend.
Jenna Reynolds

Because Jenna has been producing cooking and lifestyle shows for several years, she was able to produce Father Knows Food on a tight schedule and budget. While a national show might have several dozens of employees on set during shooting, there are only about five when Peter gets in front of the camera. "Everybody was doing five or six jobs," Jenna says.

"I'm the cook, I'm the dishwasher, I'm the prep cook, I'm the host, I'm the take-down guy, I help set up and move equipment and everything," Peter says. "We all had to wear a lot of different hats to pull this thing off. The time commitment was tremendous."

Though not a filmmaker herself, Jenna even takes over some of the filming for the more candid moments -- making a run to the store or waking the kids up in the morning, for example. Then the film is sent to a mismatch of editors across the country, and because this is a small operation, Jenna gives them an extended deadline and asks that they just get it done whenever they find time. Jenna does have experience in post-production, making it easier for her to make sure they get everything they need on the first try. "The best tool of any producer is having to do the post of what you've done in the field," she says. "If you have experience shooting and editing, you better know what you need to get during shooting."

"For us, this is a job," Peter says. "It's not a hobby, it's not playtime. We're doing this because we want to eventually make enough money that we can rely on this as our job. So you're trying to be as perfect as you can be. I'll get better as time goes by, as the load is lightened a little bit, but it's really hard."

The show was put on hold after six episodes so Jenna and Peter could have their third baby, a little girl named Cecilia. They will finish the season with seven more episodes in the fall, but for now you can see Father Knows Food on Colorado Public Television, Tuesdays at 4 p.m.



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