Arguably one of our all-time favorite shoots, we could think of no better time to throw back to dinner at home with Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka…
Picture it: Taco Tuesday at a townhouse uptown with the quintessential entertainer: Trained chef, actor and expert host, the very handsome and ever-lovable David Burtka (who is – by the by – sporting a grey polo ensconced in taco illustrations).
What would be more fitting attire for an evening like this? With that wardrobe choice, and the way he moves around a kitchen already teeming with irresistible scents, Burtka immediately proves upon our arrival his absolute expertise when it comes to cooking and entertaining. Why else would Food Network have tapped him for a new series – Life’s A Party With David Burtka?
But I digress. Let’s get back to the tacos.
Burtka and his husband – actor Neil Patrick Harris – explain their special taco trick: “We take a hard taco shell, fill it with stuff, and then take a soft tortilla and wrap it around that hard taco shell.” Harris explains.
I’m intrigued, wondering if I’ve spent my life being way too polarizing about hard vs. soft shells. I’m suddenly interrupted by the arrival of Gideon and Harper – their incredibly adorable six-year-old twins – who are far more concerned with helping their Dads chop lettuce than playing with us. Harper sports a graphic tee that says Taco Tuesday. We let Burtka know that a wardrobe memo would have been nice.
“Really thin slices, right Gideon?” Burtka suggests as he sautés.
Gideon has it covered, chopping away at the lettuce with a plastic knife like a Top Chef alum. Kid’s stuff.
“He’s the sous chef,” Gideon explains, pointing to Burtka.
“You’re my sous chef.” Burtka corrects.
Harris chimes in: “You’re the sous chef, he’s the super chef!”
We revise our notes.
Harper’s been assigned the job of crumbling the Cotija cheese, Harris asks Gideon if he’d like to pick cilantro on the rooftop. Burtka – master chef that he his – somehow manages to juggle twenty kitchen tasks at once, and suddenly as Whitney Houston’s I Wanna Dance With Somebody plays, Harris changes the game completely:
“We should play some Hamilton; you should hear these kids sing Hamilton.”
The lip sync rap battle is on.
Everyone joins in on the opening number…
All: Well the word got around they said, “This kid is insane, man” Took up a collection just to send him to the mainland, “Get your education don’t forget from whence you came, and the world’s gonna know your name…What’s your name, man?
Gideon: Alexander Hamilton.
He lip syncs like a pro.
Gideon: My name is Alexander Hamilton.
We’re all riveted.
Gideon: And there’s a million things I haven’t done. But just you wait, just you wait.
Fast forward to the closer…
David: WE fought with him.
Danielle: (Who somehow got cast…) ME? I died for him.
Neil: ME? I trusted him.
Harper: ME? I loved him!
Gideon: And ME? I’m the damn fool that shot him.
All: There’s a million things I haven’t done, just you waitttttt…what’s your name man?
Gideon & Harper: Alexander Hamilton!
No tacos were harmed in the making of this musical.
While Gideon continues to take us back to the year 1776 in, “Aaron Burr, sir” I plug Burtka and Harris for entertaining tips.
“We entertain more than we don’t,” Harris explained. “David doesn’t really ever get antsy to go clubbing, he gets antsy to cook and entertain. If I were to cook fish tacos that would be an exhausting, panic ridden failure; but it’s David’s second nature. He’s the short order cook in the mornings too.”
Burtka chimes in as he warms the tortillas, “Remember that time I made the kids oatmeal or cereal? They’re like ‘I didn’t order that!’
“They’re like ‘I’ll have a soft boiled egg, with soldiers, avocado toast and some cherry tomatoes please.” Harris continued, “When it’s my turn, they have this stuff called instant oatmeal. They come in packets. So you know you tell me…which one’s more valid?”
And as for Burtka’s “casual” brunch for friends the weekend prior…
“I always keep crazy amounts of scones in my freezer. I had scones and different pastries; I made poached eggs with grilled toast and greens from the farmer’s market. And a crudité platter with radishes, butter and salt. Peaches in syrup. Bacon and pork.”
What do a couple of sisters have to do to get a weekly invite to Burtka’s parties? We dropped hints, not sure they got picked up.
Harper saved face by insisting I try some of the chili for the tacos. She gives me a spoonful.
“Good? My dad’s chili is amazing.”
I concurred with her verdict immediately.
Suddenly, the kitchen island is covered in a delicious taco smorgasboard of soft and hard shells, lettuce, onion, fresh fish, cotija cheese, beans and chili. Everyone makes their own tacos with the sort of routine precision that makes us realize Taco Tuesday is no joke.
When everyone’s seated, it’s time for My Day By. Everyone goes around the table and takes the rest of the family through their day, starting with My Day By Gideon (or whoever’s turn it is). The days ranged from Neil guest-hosting LIVE with Kelly, to Gideon’s Spanish class, to David’s recipe testing, to Harper’s crowded subway ride (with her Dad, of course).
Storytelling, homemade tacos, and makeshift musicals…in David Burtka’s household every meal is an event, exactly how food should be.