The 2013 Summit brought a new level of focus to K-12 school nutrition programs.
Cooking from the Front Door to the Back
May 20, 2013
Sanna Delmonico, MS, RD
Nutrition Instructor and Culinary Nutrition Consultant, Strategic Initiatives The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone
Our third annual Healthy Flavors, Healthy Kids National Leadership Summit was held May 7-9, 2013, at the CIA's San Antonio campus. This year, we refined our focus from general children's nutrition to K-12 school nutrition programs, recognizing that this is an area with significant challenges and opportunities, and with tremendously dedicated, talented and passionate professionals working hard for our kids. The program was planned with direction and assistance from our newly formed National School Foodservice Advisory Council, co-chaired by Dr. Janey Thornton (USDA) and Dr. Katie Wilson (National Food Service Management Institute).
As the Summit began on Tuesday evening, three chefs took the stage to demonstrate recipes inspired by world spices. Ron DeSantis, CMC, tempted us with Mediterranean flavors, Suvir Saran got us laughing and learning about Indian spices, and Rick Bayless showed us the vegetable-focused side of Mexican cuisine. During his presentation, Rick said that his approach to cooking is always to "cook from the front door to the back." In other words, he keeps the people he cooks for as his top priority, thinking about their enjoyment of the food, as well as their healthfulness and nutrition. In school foodservice, just as in Rick's restaurants, flavor, visual appeal, and deliciousness must be chief considerations, with food cost, labor cost, and (in the case of school foodservice) reimbursement, never superseding the enjoyment of the customers—the children.
Cooking from the front door to the back is what those who work in school foodservice do every day, and our Healthy Flavors, Healthy Kids demonstrations, hands-on kitchen sessions, and breakout sessions over the three-day summit supported that approach. For our speakers and attendees, cooking from the front door to the back means:
I'll leave you with another memorable and amusing quote from Rick: "If there is something wrong with a dish, it can usually be solved with a small amount of pork."