Silver Diner's young food critics give honest feedback

Some little chefs in training got a big opportunity Tuesday when they became food critics for the day with the goal of creating healthy eating habits.

When Silver Diner in Rockville wants to switch up its menu, it brings in the experts -- kids with big appetites like 10 year-old Dorian Loretto of Reston.

“It’s like a really big honor for me so it just feels really good," he said of helping decide what makes it on the restaurant’s kids’ menu.

He and his new friends landed the mouth-watering gig after submitting ideas for low calorie and low fat breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert items.

Nearly 200 children competed for a dozen spots in this ultimate taste test.

“I like cooking a lot and sometimes when I'm at home, in my free time, I take my Easy Bake out and I make pies and stuff and pretzels and pizzas,” said 11 year-old Diana Melendez of Germantown.

Chef Ype Von Hengst invited her and the other kids over as food critics for the day.

“They give honest feedback,” he said. “Why put an item on the menu that you know isn't going to sell,” he questioned. “They might as well tell me now and then I change it and then I put it on the menu."

The kids spent two hours filling up on six courses and rated the dishes on appearance and taste.

It was a mountain of vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free food.

“Smells good," said Loretto before sinking his teeth into a heart healthy slider.

His table also munched on quinoa pancakes, tofu on skewers and more.

“I feel like I'm in charge because at home I'm usually getting told around and here I get to tell people what I like and what I don't,” said Melendez.

She and the other tiny foodies gained much more than a full stomach, they also got a plateful of inspiration.

“I’ve always made this list of what I wanted to become when I grow up and right now I'm feeling that I might be a good food critic if I can make it,” said Loretto with a smile.

One kid took home the ultimate prize: free kids’ meals for a year.

7-year-old Vincent Felix of Olney won for coming up with a recipe called "Meatball Manic."

It's a turkey meatball pasta dish that will be featured on the Silver Diner fall menu along with some of the other items the kids voted on Tuesday night.