Jamie DeRosa Hosts Little Monster Mash, Gives Healthful Treat Tips

Halloween is a great holiday for all ages, but for some reason we break it up with kids trick-or-treating first and then grownups going out for their own frightfully good time.

Tongue & Cheek partner Jamie DeRosa decided that maybe it was about time to throw a party that would entertain monsters great and small. So, this Saturday from noon to 2 p.m., kids of all ages are invited to dress up and enjoy the Little Monster Mash, a safe and fun Halloween party.

DeRosa, a new dad himself, figured since Halloween falls on a weeknight, parents can enjoy a fun, leisurely day instead of the usual trick-or-treating rush. "You're going to hurry home from work, fight daylight-savings time. It's difficult. We thought it would be fun to open the restaurant and have a safe, fun event for kids."

Food for kids under 12 is complimentary and includes a roster of child-friendly offerings such as bacon and "devil" eggs, boo-berry or pumpkin pancakes, mini "goblin" burgers, spooky white pizzas, grilled cheese, and jack-o'-lantern (pumpkin) soup -- many of them taste-tested by DeRosa's own daughter, Isabella Grace, who will be at the party. "She's 14 months old now. This is her first Halloween where she's walking and can interact with other kids."

A Halloween party wouldn't be any fun without spooky treats, so DeRosa is serving candy corn Rice Krispies treats, Boston "scream" doughnuts, candy caramel apples, and popcorn and chocolate treats. The littlest monsters can enjoy fresh fruits and yogurts.

In addition, grownups can enjoy Tongue & Cheek's full brunch menu and special Halloween cocktails, served à la carte.

Asked how he gets his daughter to eat healthfully and if he has any tips for moms and dads out there, DeRosa says, "I'm a kid who still likes to play with my food, and I think kids enjoy being interactive. I'd say get kids excited about being in the kitchen and making stuff. This time of the year, you could bake apples, carve jack-o'-lanterns. Bake chicken and fish nuggets instead of frying them and try to make fun shapes -- spiders, ghosts. Isabella likes to stay in the kitchen with me and play with the pots and pans. I'm not sure she's expressing interest in the actual cooking, but she's learning and enjoying herself. At the end of the day, don't stress too much. Halloween is the time when kids want to be kids."

DeRosa also suggests making fresh and healthful items available to little ones. "If you put some granola with yogurt and fruit, kids will eat it themselves. Make mango and peach purées. Isabella will eat all of that on her own."

Although kids eat free, Tongue & Cheek is asking all diners to bring nonperishable, kid-friendly food items including, but not limited to, granola bars, raisins, apple sauce, crackers, macaroni 'n' cheese, and canned soups. These items will be donated to Feeding South Florida's "Backpack Program," which provides backpacks full of food to thousands of low-income children throughout Miami-Dade on Friday afternoons. In many cases, this is the only food these kids will have to eat the entire weekend.

Diners who donate will receive a special holiday treat bag.

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Laine Doss is the food and spirits editor for Miami New Times. She has been featured on Cooking Channel's Eat Street and Food Network's Great Food Truck Race. She won an Alternative Weekly award for her feature about what it's like to wait tables.
Contact: Laine Doss