Chef Theo Randall is to release a new children's menu across the hotel group, developed in partnership with children's nutrition expert and author Annabel Karmel.
Randall, who trained at the River Café before setting up his own Italian restaurant at London's InterContinental Park Lane in 2006, has collaborated with Karmel to produce a child-tailored menu that will give kids choice about what they eat, offer choices they are likely to enjoy, and give them a chance to try fresh, cooked-to-order produce in the same way as their parents.
Dishes will include a tomato risotto finished with butter and parmesan, fresh broccoli and sweetcorn fritters, a "fruit palette" arranged with a paintbrush and fruit purée so kids can "paint" on sauces on to their fruit, a no-added sugar lychee sorbet, seabass with courgette fritters, and a simple pad-Thai style noodle dish. There will also be flat-fish, grilled-to-order goujons, plus winter warmers such as pumpkin and potato mash.
Dishes will also incorporate "hidden" fruit and veg where possible - such as in the tomato ragu, which conceals carrots, celery and tomatoes â' but also make sure not to put children off with things such as too much cracked black pepper, chilli or chopped parsley.
Randall explained: "[Karmel] knows what kids like and what they eat, and she always told me, you've got to keep it simple. Children have very sensitive palates, the slightest addition of something can completely change the way they eat, so it's about making a friendlier version of something that might be a bit spicier or unknown."
The menu is also based on Randall's experience with his own children, and his own childhood holidays. He called his kids "big eaters" and said that he had "cooked for them since they were tots.
"I was very privileged when I as a child, my mum was a brilliant cook and we used to go on lovely holidays, so I got to taste a lot of interesting food. It's so important for children to eat well, because it develops what they like later on in life. You are what you eat, and you need to give children great quality food so they don't get to the stage where they're fussy or difficult eaters."
Although the restaurant is happy to serve children smaller plates of adult choices, Randall pointed out that having a separate kids' menu gave both parents and children an added element of choice, and conferred respect to children themselves, who may enjoy choosing their own meal alongside the adults, and who deserve, he said, to have freshly-prepared food too.
"It's nice for children to have their own menu, because they do feel a bit more involved. The nice thing is it offers a bit more respect to them, and a little insight into different flavours," he said.
Randall admitted his biggest challenge in creating the dishes was maintaining consistency, to allow the menus to be adapted by all hotels in the group.
He said: "It's an international menu, so it has to reflect all different tastes. I'm known for my Italian style but you have to look at other cultures and see how other tastes fit in."
Ultimately, Randall said the menu was created because "if the children are happy and enjoying the food, then the adults will be happy".
The menu will be rolled out across all InterContinental Hotels and Resorts worldwide in early 2014.