Tomorrow, Phillis Wheatley Elementary will discover what the future of healthy school lunch tastes like when its students are served Grilled Rosemary Chicken Chopped Salad, a recipe conceived by fourth grader Gerald Johnson Jr. in partnership with chef Michael.
And this won’t be like previous instances, where the chef has prepped healthy dishes at the restaurant for his kids participating in Chefs Move to Schools to sample.
This time, with support of Miami-Dade Public Schools Department of Food and Nutrition and its Administrative Director Penny Parham, lunch will be prepared out of the Phillis Wheatley cafeteria, by cafeteria staff using ingredients sourced from the school system supply chain which are becoming increasingly infused with produce from local farms. Channel 10 will be there to capture it all for a segment airing during the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, February 24 to 27.
Penny is the framer of the “Chef Partnership” program that brings together local chefs to inspire her staff and students “to elevate cooking and eating at school and to model success for students and staff in the area of culinary arts.” On Friday she invited Michael to join fellow participating chefs Michelle Bernstein and Frank Gianetti at the district-wide Food Service Managers’ Meeting, its 2nd annual day of Health and Wellness featuring the first on-campus Farmer’s Market at North Miami Senior High School. Getting the food service managers from all schools throughout the district together to rally behind the chefs’ positive contributions to improving the health of the community is a key component to its success. It was a great morning, with great people — and even a moment to learn relaxation techniques. We can all use those!
We’ve really enjoyed working with Penny, especially announcing the Salad Bars Move to Schools program with the First Lady of the United States, and wanted to get to know her a little better, like how she found her calling. She kindly obliged our request for an interview. I think you’ll enjoy reading her answers, below. Keep up the good work Penny!