“Go ahead and use the heel of your hand to smash the garlic cloves out of its skin,” stated Amy Cooke, owner of Summer Thymes Cafe and the 1st graders smashed and pounded the garlic cloves on the tables laughing. Amy helped dispel the myth that one student thought that “noodles come from noodle bushes.” “This entire meal is from a plant!” Amy continued while the students picked the leaves off the basil plant, and saw photos of wheat plants which the noodle dough was made from. The students cranked the pasta machine handle that spit out long noodles and in the end, the pesto pasta was devoured by all the students.
Twenty outstanding volunteer chefs prepared interactive cooking
lessons with almost 3,000 students at 22 elementary schools for the 6th Annual Tasting Week Oct. 10-14th. “I didn’t know I was a vegetable kind of guy” and “I have never liked mushrooms before. Now I do!” exclaimed several students showing that the goal of exciting the next generation to learn about nutrition, how to eat seasonally, locally and expand their palate was succeeding through this program.
“Slimy, Savory Snack” was one of the descriptions for the fresh spring rolls the students from Clear Creek Elementary School made. The students created their own meal as they chose from a variety of bright red peppers, sweet orange carrots, cucumbers, fresh mint and cilantro, rice noodles and 3 sauces that Holly Hermansen, Nevada County Superintendent of Schools purchased from the farmer’s market. Vegetables and sauce were dripping down the student’s hands as they ate, with most of them never having had a fresh spring roll before!
The students created and tasted a variety of delectable dishes including taco pizza, mushrooms on toast, garlic parmesan spaghetti squash, rainbow veggie slaw, sweet potato tater tots, and even fried eggplant with a meat sauce that one student declared, “This is the best thing I’ve ever tasted in the world!” They didn’t hold back on their enthusiasm for the dishes, “I LOVE this! Sweet and hot. I had 3 plates already!”
They learned about the nutrition of the produce, where it comes from and the cool uses of it, “purple cabbage – Ooh…you can dye a shirt with it!”
The Tasting Week Program not only ignites enthusiasm for the children to eat creatively and colorfully with the seasons, but supports our local farmers as the chefs purchased their produce from the schools partner farms.
Gratitude for the Outstanding Volunteer Chefs
They planned menus, shopped locally for seasonal produce and presented four 30-minute lessons at each school sharing their enthusiasm, skills, knowledge and passion for eating healthy. Mason Partak, winner of season one of Chopped Junior on the Food Network, instructed the students at Cottage Hill School how to use a spiralizer and students were nibbling on the curly yellow squash that squished out of the hand held machine and were surprised that they liked fresh squash after all.
When a student asked the chef for the recipe so she could make it for Thanksgiving including alterations for her brother who has food allergies, “This made my heart soar. It’s cool to see the spark of inspiration ignite,” states Sherrill Eaton, Sierra Montessori School Farm to School Liaison.
Special Guests at Nevada Union High School
Tasting Week 2016 even extended into Nevada Union High School this year where Bay Area chef, Adam Kesselman, taught five culinary classes knife skills including the easiest way to dice an onion and julienne a red bell pepper. Once the students had a chance to practice these skills, they got busy making veggie fajitas. The delicious spicy aroma wafted out of the classroom enough to spontaneously invite Principal Dan Frisella, star volunteer Marty Lombardi, and Activities Director Pete Totoonchie, in to grab a bite to eat.
A measure of success for the Tasting Week Program is hearing the enthusiasm of the students to be eager to cook at home what they learned as one student shared with their teacher, “I’m telling my mom I’m making dinner tonight.”
Thanks to all our Volunteer Chefs: Brianna Abundiz, Kwong Chew, Amy Cooke, Ike Frazee, Susan Gouvia, Holly Hermansen, Shan Kendall, Erika Kosina, Sara Lieber, Liz Linsky, Dre’ Maher, Mason Partak, Tiana Rockwell, Shauna Schultz, Zak Starr, Maria Unger, Kayla Wexelberg, Matthew Willoughby, and Heidi Zimmerman.
If you are interested in being a Tasting Week chef for 2017, contact email@example.com for more information.