On February 10, ParentsCanada was part of a group of media invited to a special family dinner at the home of Ben and Jessica Mulroney, with their children, four-year-old twins Brian and John, and 20-month-old daughter Ivy.
Walking in, we weren’t exactly sure what to expect but after only a few minutes we knew it was going to be a fun (and delicious) night.
With appetizers and warm spiced apple cider in hand, we all gathered in the living room and heard all about the Mulroney’s recent trip aboard the Disney cruise, and how one day Ben hopes to take his boys to Universal Studios to see the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Jessica hopes a family trip to Paris will happen before then.
In no time we were all deep in varying conversations. From the Oscars (Ben covers the red carpet for etalk) and social media to the never-ending bitter Toronto cold (though nothing compared to their native Montreal), dinnertime at the Mulroney’s was underway.
When it was time to sit down to eat, we saw a different side to Ben and Jessica. As sticklers for politeness and good manners, Ben and Jessica were in full-on mommy and daddy mode, making sure that Brian and John were on their best behaviour at the dinner table. The twins were only too happy to oblige.
Dinnertime is important for this on-the-go family. Ben and Jessica ask the boys how their day at school was, and it’s not long before Brian and John are happy to answer questions from everyone sitting at the table.
“Sitting across from our kids is the best way to counterbalance the long days and longs trips associated with our jobs,” said Jessica, who manages the public relations and marketing for Kleinfeld Bridal at Hudson’s Bay. “Family dinners are an undistilled, pure, family connection, and there is absolutely no substitute.”
To make the most out of their family dinnertime, Ben and Jessica turn off the TV, leave their smartphones in another room and put away the toys for an hour. “It sounds easy but committing to that is harder than you’d think – which makes it all the more important,” said Ben.
As we enjoyed the delicious feast laid before us courtesy of executive chef Jay Scaife of Cafe Bar Pasta, it was clear that Brian and John cared more about playing with their Batman mobiles than they did about savouring the kale Caesar salad and bucatini carbonara.
Brian and John are like most four-year-olds – they’re picky eaters. Ben and Jessica have several ways they “trick” the boys into healthy eating, but there’s no problem getting them to sit down to dessert. The boys are big fans of Danette, the sponsor for the dinner. “We held our breath when Brian and John tried it for the first time,” said Jessica. “They loved it immediately and so did we, for all the right reasons.”
Danette is a dairy dessert made with 75% milk, so it’s a great option for families who want to indulge without feeling guilty. It was recently launched in Canada last year, but has been a family-favourite dessert in France for several years now. Danette comes in a variety of flavours and we had the pleasure of sampling all of them (hard job we know). The Chocolate-Coconut, Coffee and Caramel were among our favourites.
As conversations continued over coffee, we soon realized that Danette is not just a sweet treat for Brian, John or Ivy. For Ben and Jessica, it is a chance to feel like kids again themselves.
Soon it was time say our goodbyes and many thanks to our gracious hosts. No matter what the menu, dinnertime is first and foremost about cherishing the moments spent together.