Special Edition: Director Tamra Davis Feeds Her Kids and Her Husband, Mike D
Every family does mealtime differently. All we know is food and family go together like PB and J. In Munchland, you show us how your family fills up their tummies.
- CITY: Tribeca, New York City, New York/Malibu, California
- OUR BUNCH: Tamra, filmmaker. Mike, musician/Beastie Boy. Davis, 7, adventurous surfer. Skyler, 5, creative Michael Jackson fan.
After chatting on the phone with Tamra Davis, we have concluded that she is our hero. For one thing, she’s one of a handful of successful female filmmakers and has directed some of our favourite movies of all time (hello, Billy Madison!). You know that band you loved in high school? She directed their music video. Her husband is Mike D of the Beastie Boys, and her circle of friends has included such iconic figures as Jean-Michel Basquiat , the subject of her recent documentary project.
But what’s really relatable about Tamra (besides the fact that she’s so sweet, you’d think you were talking with an old friend) is that she, like so many of us, had kids and traded in a fast-paced, glitzy career for a slowed-down life focused squarely on her family. Finding herself lacking a creative outlet and obsessed with what to feed her boys and herself, she began filming her own online cooking show (and wrote a book filled with yummy, healthy recipes for kids, Make Me Something Good to Eat). We love how she makes preparing scrumptious meals for her family look so fun and easy, and are jealous of her ability to effortlessly slice and pit an avocado.
Tamra is not just an accomplished cook but a food educator as well. She teaches kids how to cook and make smart food choices, and she’s amassed a collection of fun food facts that she fascinated us with during our phone conversation.
Why did you start making your videos?
I’m a filmmaker, and when I had kids, I found myself all of a sudden going from somebody who constantly worked and filmed to being a mom. I started making videos in order to save my sanity and my identity of not being a filmmaker. I was inspired, but not by what was on television. I was watching more TV cooking shows, but the recipes weren’t things I would personally cook for my family. They were often fattening foods, and after being pregnant your own body is in a crazy shape. I was like, “Oh, man, I gotta drop a few pounds.” So I thought I would turn the camera on myself and share my own recipes.
One of our most basic human instincts is to eat, and it’s something delicious we can share with other people. I realized I had the skills to film it all. In this day and age, you have the technology to film, edit and post a video. All you need is a camera and a computer. But the videos are raw, which people respond to. You look real, you’re in the kitchen wearing pajamas. Moms appreciate that I’m a mom just like they are. It’s more important that they can see themselves in me and say, “Oh, I can do that.” I really try to inspire moms and make everything super easy to understand.
What do your kids like/not like to eat?
I usually keep trying if the boys say they don’t like something, I don’t automatically take it out. Our meals always have a vegetable, a protein and a grain. I try to keep the boys involved in the meal planning. I’ll ask them, “What do you want for your vegetable for tonight?” and they’ll choose broccoli or green beans.
Sometimes I have them help me, but with two boys sometimes I need to separate them. If they’re getting too overly playful, I’ll say, “One of you come sit on the counter.” Skyler’s good at making scrambled eggs; he’ll stir and put the eggs in the pan. I read a statistic that if kids cook food themselves, they’re 75 to 80 percent more likely to eat it, especially if it’s something they’re interested in. I thought that was so interesting, and I’ve found it’s true from cooking with kids in schools.
What do you serve to guests?
I’ve also found when you become a mom, you’re gonna stay in more, and people come over more to have food. Sometimes you have to have some skills, whether cooking for your boss or friends. It gives women confidence, when they feel they can cook dinner for a dinner party or have a cookbook. I really believe that’s a big part of being in a family, to be able to cook food for a dinner party.
My husband is really into wine lately, so a lot of the time I’ll make dinners that can go with wine. He has a lot of friends in the restaurant world. But I really cook simple food, things that don’t need to be so impressive. You don’t need a lot of fancy techniques. I’ll make a simple grilled tuna sandwich. Sometime he’ll make the salad, or we’ll cook together. He’s a great prep chef, and he also cleans, which is fantastic. He totally likes that I cook and he does the dishes. Sometimes he goes to wine dinners, he’ll go out with the guys and they’ll get fancy wine. Wine is actually really healthful. Women should have a glass of wine a day, as it has some health benefits.
You have such great music in your videos. What do you listen to while you’re cooking?
I found when we went to Hawaii, I was suddenly cooking dinner for 10 to 12 friends every night. If I’m alone and I put some music on, it becomes totally relaxing, and I have the best time. It’s one of the most therapeutic things to do. Another thing I found out from a study is that if you cook something and it tastes good and you present it, if you receive apprecation from your kids, your husband or your friends, it raises your dopamine level. It stimulates a certain chemical function in your brain that make us feel good. There is literally a chemical reaction when someone takes a bite and says, “Mmm.” It makes people feel fantastic. This is something amazing and wonderful that should be shared with all moms and dads. Another study I read said that food cooked by somebody with nice intentions tasted better in blind taste tests than the same food cooked by someone with a different emotion.
Video of Tamra’s family hanging out with the other Beastie Boys:
A few more pics of Tamra’s fam:
According to statistics that we just made up, chances are you’re eating as you read this. Which obviously means you want to shoot a video to share how your family chows down. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.