In the spring of each school year, a nervous excitement fills the Emeril Lagasse Kitchen House and Culinary Garden as middle schoolers from Orlando Junior Academy (OJA) prepare to compete in the annual Iron Chef Jr. Competition.
Our first Summer . . . in our inspiring new space . . . connecting kids with seed-to-table learning experiences to build a healthy future . . . has been blessed!
Field Trips ~ Home School Groups ~ Week-long Camps ~ Teacher Academy ~ Chef Night ~ Sunday Morning Gardening ~ Trevi Pasta Contest Winner ~ Private Events
A bare table with 40 chairs is stretched down the length of the covered veranda of the Emeril Lagasse Foundation Kitchen House & Culinary Garden. Tonight it is the Mentors’ Table, a fundraising event spearheaded by Chef Jaime McFadden’s PEAS Foundation.
The distance most food travels from farm soil to our dinner plate is usually measured in miles. Recently the seventh graders from OJA reduced that journey to mere feet. With a portable hot plate, folding table and a few basic tools the students were able to prepare a delicious recipe in the garden using ingredients from the garden.
Chef Night is part of the programming by Edible Education Experience (EEE), whose mission is to ground education in a garden experience. It's designed to help sustain EEE programming and will eventually be presented at the Emeril Lagasse Foundation Kitchen House & Culinary Garden to be completed November 2016. EEE co-founders Brad Jones, Sarah Cahill and Kevin Fonzo, chef/owner of K Restaurant, have been integrating core-curriculum through Edible Ed classes to all 5th-8th graders at Orlando Junior Academy since the 2011-12 school year. Cahill wanted to expand the lesson with the kids to include adults, too.
"I wanted to reach out to families, parents, and the community to help them understand the importance of making intentional healthy choices," says Cahill. "I wanted it to be hands on so that participants can learn from the successes and the mistakes and have a meaningful experience. And I wanted to tap into our incredible wealth of chefs, community experts and our garden."
Chef Night features a volunteer guest chef, a healthy menu that can be replicated at home, a fun environment to cook in, an outing to the garden to forage for ingredients and a delicious shared meal. Says Cahill, "Participants learn not just from the instructor but from the other guests. There's a real cross-pollination of information sharing about books, spices, allergies and healthy alternatives. I've found that people who've come once usually return, with friends."
The next Chef Night is Wednesday, August 17 from 6-8:30PM, led by Chef Ryan Freelove, new restauranteur of Market to Table. Find the menu and all the details at EdibleEd.org/Events.
Imagine 20 kids from Boys & Girls Club, touring the Orlando Junior Academy gardens while sipping on watermelon-mint-lime smoothies and you’ll get a sense of what took place, June 24, when Adventist University partnered with Edible Education Experience.
The kids spent two hours on the OJA campus which included a hands-on cooking experience involving egg cracking and selecting garden fresh herbs as ingredients for an individual, freshly cooked, egg omelette. The garden tour was led by Brad Jones and cooking was led by Chef/Teacher Allyson Schurig, both who volunteered their time and expertise.
The kids were fun and appreciative and impressed the adult leaders with some of their cooking skills and poignant questions. One of the girls, having learned from her dad on ‘How to crack an egg’, assumed the role of teaching her peers and there was a lively discussion over the different naturally-colored eggs that had been locally sourced.
Endearing quotes of the day were: “Are you trying to kill us!?!” (boy’s exclamation upon seeing fresh mint leaves floating in the water dispenser) and, “I like this! I’m going to tell my mom to add grass to our watermelon.” (another boy’s excitement after tasting cubed watermelon with chopped mint).
To learn more about Boys & Girls Club of Central Florida visit: www.bgccf.org
For more Edible Education Experience information go to: www.EdibleEd.org and check-out Facebook - EdibleEducationExperience or Instagram EdibleEdExp. Send inquiries to info@EdibleEd.org.