The award-winning chef goes from Noma to nom nom baby food.
Our best-selling Yumi Chef Series is proof that baby food should not only be real, it should also be really delicious.
Chef Malcolm Livingston II is a food poet, who refers to his relationship with the kitchen as “controlled anarchy.” After spending time living in Coppehagen working the most coveted pastry job in the entire restaurant industry, he landed at home in his native Bronx, where he’s really into making “great salads and incredible french fries,” with his wife and daughter Elli. Luckily, he’s partnered with Yumi, where his Sweet Potato Cheesecake and Banana Bread Bites are a smash hit amongst parents and babies alike. Peas and carrots move over. This is the new baby food.
It’s a first for Yumi and for Malcolm, who has a pretty sweet sous chef this time around in Elli. For Malcolm, there’s nothing better than family time, some Soulection Radio while he cooks, and what he calls “a serious dance party in the kitchen.”
Keeping “balance at the core” is important to his cooking, as is connecting with children. Explaining, they’re “the most honest food critics in the world.”
Can you tell us about your earliest memories in the kitchen? What smells and tastes stand out to you?
My earliest memories in the kitchen are watching my family cook, primarily my mother and my paternal aunt Alice. As a child, home cooked meals were often prepared by my mother who would magically bless the stove after a hard day of work to whip some amazing meals. My paternal aunt Alice lived across the building of my home and she is my first memory of a dessert. Going to her house was like visiting a bakery/confection shop. Her motto was to always have an abundance of dessert in case people come over.
How do you think your own early eating shaped your palate today?
I was kind of a picky eater in the early days of my life. I’m glad my parents often introduced me to many types of cuisines even if I didn’t like it. The exposure allowed me to remain curious.
Do you have a favorite dish from your childhood?
My favorite dish as a child would be my mother’s grilled red snapper, coconut rice and peas, and coleslaw. It’s a remixed Bajan dish she learned from her father and in Barbados.
You started your career as the youngest kitchen staff member in one of New York’s most iconic restaurants. How did that job help shape your relationship with food?
The job shaped my relationship with food by helping me to understand the pillars of gastronomy. I had to essentially strip away what I learned in culinary school and conform to a new style of cooking, which was more realistic for fast paced dynamic New York restaurants.
When you had your daughter, did that change how you think about food?
Absolutely ! I’ll never know the feeling of carrying my daughter in the womb, but I do know that caring for her means I’m responsible for her life. Every aspect of my life has morphed into her as a priority. I want to make sure that she is eating healthy and it also made my priority for her to see myself eating healthy as well.
When you had Elli you wanted to be sure you were feeding her healthy foods. Did you find it hard to balance parenthood with chef hood?
It was very hard to balance at first because I was new to the parenthood and the long hours of chef hood. It took myself having a strong mindset to feed our child the best options and then I realized that I need to also make changes for myself to adopt it.