Whatever It Takes, Please!


I’m not reinventing the wheel, I’m just trying to get my kid to eat more fish.

Whatever it takes.

(It takes loads of mayonnaise.)

(And a personable, friendly chef.)

My fifteen year-old daughter and I watch a show called Check, Please! hosted by the talented, darling of Miami, Michelle Bernstein. Every week three amateur foodies sit around a table with Chef Michy discussing and rating the meals enjoyed at their favorite local restaurants. My daughter loves watching Chef Michelle’s cheerful and approachable style and is eager to point out the guests’ practiced waves and accidental blunders on television.

She also always suggests that I recommend our favorite culinary spots but then quickly changes her mind, telling me I’d make a terrible guest: I’d be too impatient with my fellow reviewers, the ones that struggle pronouncing mojito or have never tried quail. She giggles as she tells me this.

I think it’s a compliment.

Michelle always shares a recipe that runs with the theme of the show and last week’s was all about seafood so she offered up her tartar sauce.

About five years ago, my daughter declared she doesn’t eat fish, which is tricky, because the rest of the family could probably eat fish every single day. Still, she hears the word “mayonnaise” and is ready to reconsider. She loves anything slathered in the stuff, and when she learns this sauce has chopped pickles and capers (two of her favorite ingredients) and is mandatory for fish (according to her newest idol, Chef Michy) she listens and nods.

For added effect, she sends me an accusatory look, the one that screams I’ve been depriving her of nourishment by not providing her with this tartar sauce. Soon I’ll hear that this is the reason she hasn’t eaten fish. And, of course, it’s all my fault.


I’m impressed by Chef Michelle’s influence and wonder if she has a teenage daughter of her own. I also want to invite Michi over to my house, not necessarily to bond over one of her stellar recipes (although I’m sure that would be cool) but because I’m hoping she can work some magic on Daniela’s tepid sentiments towards neatness.

Or helping with the trash.

Or any request, really, that comes out of my mouth. Everything is up for grabs for an argument these days.

But this recipe has her quiet and attentive.

I think I even heard the word please, as in:
“Mom, you need to make that sauce. If you do, I’ll eat fish.    Please.”

Yup. You gotta listen close, but, it’s there.

I pull out my vat of mayonnaise (restaurant size tub courtesy of Costco.)

I mix the ingredients.

I bake fish.

And pray.

Dear God, I pray.

The salmon is done and the sauce is ready. It’s tangy, tart, and creamy. A thousand calories per bite, but who cares, my daughter, my daughter, is eating fish tonight.

Chef Michy's Tartar Sauce

(adapted from “Check Please, South Florida!”) Ok, I like my tartar sauce loaded up and spicy, which is why I use way less mayo than the original recipe while keeping the other ingredients pretty much the same. Obviously, if you want it more mayonnaisey, add more of the stuff, less spicy, take it down a notch with the Sriracha.


  • 2 tablespoons capers, minced
  • 4 tablespoons dill pickles, minced
  • 2 tablespoons flat parsley, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill
  • 2 teaspoons Sriracha sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • salt, to taste
  • Plop in a bowl. Mix. Scoop onto fish, fish sandwiches, salad, whatever!

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Whatever It Takes, Please!

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