Friday, May 5, 2017

Chef's Tasting Table Day 9 // Citrus + Fennel

Today's diary recap of our last Chef's Tasting Table starts on the day before, as I was picking up the produce at my Jewel Osco grocery store! In my hand, you can see my very first taste of the mouth watering apple-pears (aka Asian Pears - Thanks to the suggestion of Dan, the amazing produce manager!) And I bumped into West Oak School's very own Mrs Piland! Did you know that she and I also went to Mundelein High School together back in 1995? It's such a small school foodie ed world...

Our last Chef's Tasting Table consisted of the following: One mandarine orange for all, a few chunks of an apple pear, and a small scoopful of that gorgeous citrus and fennel salad. As the school year is running out of time, so is citrus season = Good tasting timing!

A Citrus and Fennel Salad

5 navel oranges
3 grape fruits
1 small fennel bulb sliced thin
sea salt to taste
1 tbsp chopped fresh fennel fronds
1 tbsp minced fresh parsley
2 tbsp honey

Cut off the rinds and pith's of the citrus using this awesome technique. Add the citrus, sliced fennel, parsley and fronds to the bowl and mix. Season to taste with sea salt and honey. Enjoy!

These kids have so much energy and smiles were abundant! Click here for some 8th graders reactions, and click back to my home Instagram page for the 5th grade school lunch room interview I posted today. 

Afterwards, the entire school went outside to walk after lunch as it was ACES Day (All Children Exercise Simultaneously) - What a fabulous "food and move day" combo!!

SO many things to celebrate in this wrap-up post:

1. School lunch participation went UP - You can't pull apart the impact of 2 important things:

  • A new school lunch service coordinator - KIM! She brought so much more organization, enthusiasm and love into the lunch room.
  • The addition of our 9 Chef's Tasting Table events.

You could say it was a perfect storm.

According to Kim, her West Oak School average daily school lunch tally grew from:
140 meals a day (October)
170 meals a day (December/January)
200 meals a day (April/May)


2. Overall, the Chef's Tasting Table participation and enthusiasm went UP every week, especially in the 7th and 8th grades.

3. We're doing it again next year! Perhaps into Diamond Lake School too! Stay tuned...

4. Greater school food "player" connection. Yesterday was our first meeting of the minds to connect Illinois Farm To School Network + Preferred Meals. May the 4th was with us - We're gonna start small and dream BIG.

Enthusiastic good food education inspires everyone at the table! I am learning so much about how school food works in Illinois and I'm constantly inspired by the people who are working to improve it.

Sue Kruckman = One superbly-amazing school wellness coordinator and school nurse. We could not have done this year's tastings without each other's partnership, vision and leadership. I love you girl.

Here is the equation that came together for a year of fun food education in the lunchroom:

Inside buy-in: Diamond Lake School District 76 administration and teachers who want and support it
+ A passionate outside volunteer (like me)
+ An incredible real school food education program grant from The Chef Ann Foundation | Healthy Skoop --> Project Produce = $2500 of funding!
+ Support from D76's school service provider Preferred Meals
+ A local farm (Jen and Jeff from Prairie Wind Family Farm)
+ A local grocery store produce manager (Dan from Jewel Osco on Maple/Midlothian)


THANK YOU from the bottom of my Food Revolution heart!

To the Mullies we go...


You can catch up to the previous 8 "Chef's Tasting Table" events by scrolling down on the left hand side of my blog's home page under "Topics in the Mullies."

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