As most kids spend their summers wheeling around Hot Wheels and idly watching Nickelodeon on the tube, 11-year-old Wyatt prefers to dine at Broward's restaurants with his family, and then dutifully-announce his thoughts on his self-published food blog, Wyatt Tastes Good.
We had lunch with him and his mother, Julie, recently at the Flanigans in Pompano Beach to see this small adult in his natural element. An undercover foodie journalist disguised as your everyday tween, Wyatt jotted down notes and stealthily snapped photos of his food from drink order to dessert.
Dressed in a collared shirt and standing at 5'5", Wyatt scoots inside the over-sized wooden booths and picks up the laminated menu. Fingering the menu items in silent concentration, Wyatt flips past the appetizers and doesn't even acknowledge the kiddie menu. He means business.
"If I could change children's menus, I would make them with bigger portions and better sides," Wyatt declares in a speech that would surely have gotten him elected for school president. "I shouldn't be able to go to a Chinese restaurant and order chicken fingers. It's a disgrace."
Wyatt began Wyatt Tastes Good two years ago, when he was nine, to not just examine the meals he's served when he dines out, but to also actualize his ultimate dream: to get paid to eat. Under parental supervision, Wyatt has already reviewed almost 40 restaurants and garnered 12 followers. Currently collaborating with Urbanspoon so that his commentary is displayed on their site, Wyatt has also been featured on the Daily Meal, Fox News, and Dwellable, but this is his first interview.
"I'm not a picky eater," Wyatt explains. "If you're going to be a kid food critic you can't be picky. You also have to be able to eat a lot."
After two years in the food blogging biz, Wyatt enters the sixth grade with a flawless report card. He admits science is his favorite subject in school, but he hopes to use his blog as a segue into the culinary scene and become a chef. He doesn't know what kind of chef he hopes to become or even what sort of restaurant he pictures himself working at. But at eleven years old, he has plenty of time to figure out the logistics.
"I've been helping my mom bake Key Lime pie and it's been a lot of fun," Wyatt explains. "Out of all the places we've gone to eat, our [Key Lime pie] recipe is the best."
He explains that he doesn't read other food blogs. Instead he prefers to tune in to the Food Network where Celebrity Cook-Off has been his favorite show. He dressed up as Guy Fieri for Halloween.
When our server, Brian, comes to ask for our drinks, Wyatt asks for water, and asserts that he's in fact ready to order.
"I'll have the Big Daddy burger, well done." Wyatt states in perfect posture.
When the server asks what he would like for his side, he opts against the fries and orders dirty rice. It raised eyebrows.
"He doesn't eat a lot of snack food," his mother explains noticing our surprise. "I let him choose what he wants to eat, I mean this is his blog. I might stop him if it becomes excessive but it's never gotten to that point."
Wings, burgers, and conch fritters are Wyatt's favorite things to order. He detests oysters because "they just look really gross to me." In the school cafeteria, he's been applauded for his appetite, going for seconds, thirds, and even fourths to the buffet.
Yet of all the places he's eaten in his critic career, Dan Good Pizza -- which he regrets closed last year -- and Hot Krust Panini Kitchen ranked highest.
"I use a spork-rating system to rank my meals," Wyatt explains. "It's kinda like the star-rating [system] but with sporks. You know one to five, one is the lowest, five is the highest... [I chose sporks] because they're efficient. You can scoop and poke, but it's also pretty funny."
When our waiter returns with our drinks, Wyatt thanks him. As soon as he walks away, Wyatt notices that the waiter forgot his straw. He shrugs and waits until our server walks past our table again to remind him.
As we wait for our food to arrive, Wyatt's mom, Julie, explains that this blog was meant to be a joint endeavor between her two sons but her eldest son, Aaron, 14, never followed through. Now she says her youngest daughter, Ellie, 8, wants to start food writing in Wyatt's footsteps.
Our meal arrives and Wyatt immediately deconstructs his burger. When he puts it back together, he leaves out the tomato but adds ketchup. He takes a big bite, and through chipmunk-full cheeks, smiles.
He never speaks with his mouth full. But once he's gulped down his first bite he looks around.
"I never got my straw, I'll remember that later." Wyatt says ominously.
Once Wyatt has devoured everything on his plate, a true Clean Plate Charlie, he rests his hands on the table, folding his hands. He has a smidgen of ketchup on his chin.
"I can eat dessert," Wyatt says confidently. "I always leave room for dessert."
Our server Brian returns with an odd poster board displaying desserts, and tells us to chose. We leave it up to Wyatt who is conflicted between the Key Lime pie and the chocolate cake.
After a few moments of deliberation, he points to the chocolate cake.
"It wouldn't have been as good as my mom's," Wyatt says justifying his decision.
When the gargantuan chocolate dessert arrives, it comes with two forks, to share. We tell Wyatt we're full. Grinning, he pulls the plate in front of him. He picks up both forks, jamming the cutlery into the cake and then into his mouth, two at a time.
"I liked it," Wyatt says looking back on his meal just beginning to digest in his stomach. "The food was good. Everything was good except for the straws."
He coyly leaves his business card with the check and exits the restaurant with his mother.
We couldn't have done it better ourselves.
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