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.
Chef Joe Rees, co-owner of The Strand, charmed and inspired at November’s Chef Night. Roasted root veggies and kale salad with warm shallot dressing and seasoned pecans were a delicious highlight. The baked grouper with white wine & butter sauce were the perfect pairing and the lemon-thyme dessert bar, sent over by Mrs. Rees, was the final hit of the evening.
Edible Ed at OJA was honored to welcome Fabiola Gaines, Registered Dietician and co-founder of Hebni Nutrition, as a guest presenter on September 9. Gaines is also co-author of the "Healthy Soul Food" Cookbook.
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.
Back-to-School typically means new uniforms, binders and lunch boxes and this year, for Orlando Junior Academy students, it also meant educational construction site tours of the soon coming Emeril Lagasse Foundation Kitchen House & Culinary Garden.
Jose Venegas, of Midtown Architecture Studio, was on hand to lead small groups of students and parents through the 3,500 sq. ft. kitchen house, as part of OJA’s Back-to-School Bash on August 7. Venegas was quoted as saying, “Making a building like this is a privilege. I always enjoy telling others of the beautiful vision it will soon share with our community.”
Educational highlights included: Identifying different construction shapes found in the roof and wall framing, figuring square footage and learning the science behind environmental-friendly elements such as metal roofing and water catchment, resulting in LEED certification.
Parents offered many positive responses including, "This resource will truly differentiate OJA from other schools" and "I can feel the excitement--there's so much positive energy around what's going to happen here!"
Students were especially excited about getting to wear hard hats and signing their name on one of the walls to memorialize their part in this special project. Many of the kids also took the opportunity to write a note of thanks to Massey Services for the non-toxic termite treatment that was gifted to the project. Special recognition also goes to HuntonBrady, architect of record, and E2Homes for prepping the site for the day's visitors.
The garden was also enjoyed as students and parents sipped cool citrus-and-mint-flavored water, offered by gracious volunteers, while observing the butterflies flitting from flower to flower.
Edible Education Experience looks forward to project completion in November and sharing this new community kitchen classroom with kids where cooking and gardening are integrated into school curriculum and beyond . . .
Thank you, Orlando Weekly, for making Edible Education Experience the beneficiary for this year’s Bite Night Silent Auction! Because of this partnership, EEE received over $5,000 to further its important mission of grounding education in a garden experience.
This year’s event was held on June 27, at the Orchid Room on Church Street, which led to 1,200 attendees enjoying a night of fine food from over 21 local restaurants. Once again, K Restaurant was “in the house” highlighting fresh local fare and beloved volunteers helped set up and over see the auction tables.
The Silent Auction and, newly added Raffle, increased the evening’s fun. We’re very grateful to the businesses that donated items and encourage our readers to support:
Baoery Asian Gastropub
Black Rooster Taqueria
Dave & Busters
Disney on Ice
Florida Dairy Council
Great Escape Room
Hard Rock Cafe
Maddy’s Craft & Cru
Maxine’s on Shine
Mountain Kettle Korn
Publix Aprons School
Simply 7 Snacks
We also very much appreciate Brad, Rachel, Zackary, and the entire Orlando Weekly team, and enjoyed our turn to host when Orlando Weekly came to visit the future site of the Emeril Lagasse Foundation Kitchen House & Culinary Garden. Orlando Weekly’s annual Bite 30 and Bite Night events is a true partnership of local media, supporting local chefs, supporting a local foodie cause for kids. Edible Education Experience is honored to be that cause.
Dear Reader, plan to attend next year's Bite Night and in the meantime, support the above fine businesses when you can.
Bright and early on June 22 & 23, twenty teachers and community leaders, representing 11 area schools, gathered to enjoy two extraordinary days of cooking with chefs and hands-on gardening. This 5th annual Edible Schoolyard Academy was presented by Edible Education Experience and hosted at Orlando Junior Academy.
Discussions and activities provided attendees with practical help for building or improving their own school gardens and gave inspiration towards integrating cooking and gardening into school curriculum. Cooking lessons included: Written food memories, history of pasta making, ease of processing nut butters, basic knife skills and table etiquette. Gardening lessons explored: Science of composting, math relevance when building a trellis, literacy principals found in flower arranging and introduction to readily available resources that include standards-based lesson plans. Teachers were also toured through the future Emeril Lagasse Kitchen House & Culinary Garden and were invited to return with their students as a field trip destination.
Academy instruction was led by Sarah Cahill, Certified Raw Food Chef, Kevin Fonzo, Chef/Owner of K Restaurant and Brad Jones, Garden Coordinator. Attendees also received expert advise from guest presenters:
Dept. of Ag and School
Garden Coordinator for the
State of Florida
OCPS Food Director
OJA Math Specialist
OJA Literacy Specialist
As community partners, Erica Asti of Florida Hospital introduced how schools can invite Mission:Fit and CREATION U to their campus for a fun and interactive health message and Megan Silberman of Jamba Juice brought fresh carrots and apples for on-site juicing as a mid-afternoon snack. Silberman also distributed information as to how schools can partner with Jamba Juice for healthy school fundraisers.
Time for reflection was given at the end of the 2-day session and rave reviews were received:
“Loved the recipes and hands-on lessons. Very inspired to “cook” hopefully weekly in class.” Joyce Nichols, Lake Silver Elementary
“I totally enjoyed every minute I spent in the garden. This Professional Development exceeded my expectations. Thank you! The lessons can be easily incorporated into our Science, Math, and Social Studies standards for all grade levels” Sonia Robinson, Whispering Oaks Elementary
“I am most eager to incorporate ideas like watermelon math in my lesson plans to teach circumference, perimeter and area and to use the measuring of ingredients to teach fractions.” Michelle O’Reilly, Orlando Junior Academy
Overall, this year's Academy received a satisfaction rate of over 90% and many attendees offered the fact that they would recommend the program to someone they know.
A big “Thank You” to providers of teacher scholarships and event sponsors: Lake Adair Garden Club, College Park Rotary, Slow Foods Orlando, Winter Park Gardening Club, Edible Orlando Magazine and Whole Foods Market. OCPS and West Learning Community also funded several teachers.
Schools represented were: Dillard Street Elementary
First Congregational Church PreSchool/Kindergarten
Lake Silver Elementary
Lakeview Middle School
Memorial Middle School
Monarch Learning Academy
Orlando Junior Academy
Whispering Oak Elementary and our first international attendance from the Virgin Islands Department of Education. Also in attendance was a representative from Young Environmental Society and an occupational therapist, for the sake of her young clients.
Next year's Academy is already in planning with June 2017 dates to be determined. If you know a school administrator, teacher or parent who is involved with a school garden, tell them about this 2-day workshop. If you are a business and wish to be an event sponsor, please contact Janice@EdlbeEd.org.
Under normal conditions a 20-ton crane would have gotten the job done. But, when the challenge arose of flying trusses, and saving the garden at the same time, Beyel Brothers stepped up to offer a 40-ton crane with a wider radius. This allowed the crane to park on the street instead of on the garden, which would have turned the garden's loose fluffy soil into a rock-bed of compaction. From the beginning, contractor Rob Smith of E2Homes has been committed to an environmentally-friendly project and Brad Jones, Garden Coordinator, is relieved and grateful for having been able to maintain the two years of soil prep that's been underway.
In addition to the fine crane operation, Bill Reagan's framing crew is doing a masterful job. To date, the roof decking has been installed and the 2nd-story dormers are taking shape. EEE was honored to serve the crew fresh lime drinks and cold watermelon, with mint from the garden, as a token of our appreciation for their hard and steady work. Completion is expected in November.
As a friendly reminder, Sunday morning gardening is an on-going event. We invite you to come get your hands dirty, collect seeds in the shade or just stop by to see the progress for yourself.
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.