What do you get when you bring together five chefs, about 40 cafeteria employees, and a cornucopia of fresh produce and wholesome grains like red quinoa – yes you heard right, quinoa! – now sourced by Miami-Dade Public County Public Schools for its lunch program? An inspiring morning of cooking, collaboration, learning, and good eating!
This morning Michael joined fellow local chefs Michelle Bernstein (Michy’s, SRA. Martinez,) Richard Ingraham (Dwyane Wade,) Julie Frans (Essencia at The Palms,) and Douglas Rodriguez (D. Rodriguez Cuba) for a productive training session at Johnson & Wales University’s North Miami campus with cafeteria staff from their partner schools. After breaking out into two kitchen classrooms, some game-planning, slicing, dicing, picking, sauteeing, and teamwork, two delicious lunches came together buffet-style — all with creating a healthy spread appealing to kids in mind. Michael’s first contribution was key in setting the menu in motion: combine quinoa with rice to introduce it to young palates. Michy countered with the addition of a little coconut milk to bring the pilaf together and mellow out some of the spices like cardamom, cinnamon and cayenne used to prepare other ingredients. Another tip offered was to try undercooking vegetables so they keep their bright colors and texture. Who knows what future menu items this Jazz-like number will inspire in their respective schools, but one thing is certain. It wasn’t just the cafeteria staff who learned a thing or two from this exercise.
Huge thanks to Administrative Director Penny Parham and her team at the Food & Nutrition Department of this, the fourth-largest public school system in the United States, for their visionary work to feed kids better food in schools. For more photos of the training, visit our Flickr set.