Tons of creative recipes, hands on cooking experience and Child Nutrition Professionals— I can not think of a better way to spend a day! December 2015, marked the inaugural Meal Appeal University, and To Taste had the honor of participating.

Texas school districts are divided into regions or Education Service Centers (“ESCs”). Over the past few months, five ESCs hosted Meal Appeal Universities. What is a Meal Appeal University? Two culinary nutrition days for Child Nutrition Professionals to enhance meals prepared for students. Topics included knife skills, social media, food photography and proper techniques for cooking grains and vegetables!  We were honord to teach at three universities, Regions 16, 8 and 18.

With continued concern for our country’s health and a huge emphasis on better health in schools, school cafeterias are being challenged by parents, communities, and most importantly students’ taste buds to prepare healthy and flavorful meals. A school cafeteria’s goal is not only to produce healthier meals, but to make sure their meals are being consumed by students. Without proper culinary training, some schools struggle to create meals that students WANT to eat versus HAVE to eat.

We were fortunate to host the culinary nutrition education series—our favorite! Participants rotated through two three hour sessions. Our classes were divided into three sections including education, demonstration and hands on cooking experience. We believe learning is a three step process. Individuals need to hear the information, see it, and then spend time doing it. The most important part is the guided practice!

The classes were held in kitchens and work stations. Chef V’s class covered grains and vegetables, while my class focused on knife skills and salad preparation. Participants were given student approved recipes. A few of their favorites were Vegetable Stir-Fry , Sautéed Kale with Ginger and Soy, Garlic Broccoli and Roasted Spiced Cauliflower. Prepared food was sampled by all participants. “This is school food?” Asked a University participant. Yes! School food no longer needs a distinct reputation as something you wouldn’t eat outside of “those four walls”. No more square pepperoni and soggy vegetables. Start looking for fresh, flavorful, roasted and reputable. It’s here!

Other amazing presenters included Dayle Hayes, Kern Halls with Ingenious Culinary Concepts and local chefs in each region. We were thrilled to be part of Meal Appeal University, and we have thoroughly enjoyed the positive feed back from districts across Texas!

To YOUR taste,

Chef Lindsey