Here at Vetri Community Partnership, our culinary program staff is made up of trained chefs whose culinary backgrounds have prepared them to be simultaneously creative and cost-efficient – two skills necessary in school cafeterias and in developing affordable, healthy cooking programs.
From coming up with and testing all of the recipes used in our programs to supporting the schools and students we serve, we couldn’t do the work we do without the passion and dedication of our culinary team.
Before I came to VCP, I was a brand-new mom, working for Corporate and realizing that it DID NOT suit me
My favorite vegetable: I love raw veggies, and have been known to just eat crudites for lunch regularly! But I absolutely love spicy, garlicky braised collard greens with hearty splash of apple cider vinegar to finish. Cauliflower, Brussels sprouts roasted dark. And mushrooms sauteed with garlic, butter and Worcestershire!
Tip for cooking with and feeding kids: Get the kids hands-on as much as possible. Will it be messy? Probably. Will they have fun? Definitely. But so will the adults. Kids are more likely to try things – from raw state to cooked – if they are involved in the preparation and if you are as well. Also, trust them with a task, whether it is peeling, grating, or knife-work even if it seems scary to you.
Before I came to VCP, I was a line cook, a stay-at-home mom and a dog walker.
My favorite vegetable: Brussels sprouts! Oh, and cauliflower. And kale. All things cruciferous, I guess. I pan sear them with oil, salt and pepper until they’re almost burnt.
Tip for cooking with and feeding kids: Listen to kids as intently as you would listen to adults – they have some crazy and awesome ideas. Regard cooking and eating an act of joy and love instead of a chore and a battlefield. And model good behavior – be the eater that you want your kid to be.
Before I came to VCP, I was a young woman right out of college in the professional restaurant industry seeking out the next best taste, experience, and position on the line.
My favorite vegetable: I love adding greens to everything I cook whether it’s wilting spinach or arugula with some roasted vegetables or braising them down with a fried egg on top.
Tip for cooking with and feeding kids: Wear your patience pants and remind them to as well. It’s easy to try to commit to set boundaries, but going in with an open mind is the best thing you can do!
Before I came to VCP, I was a working mom and a sous chef at a small, farm to table catering company in University City.
My favorite vegetable: My two favorite veggies (because I can’t pick just one) are asparagus and sweet potatoes. With asparagus, I do a very quick blanch and then quickly saute on very high heat with sea salt, pepper, minced garlic and olive oil. With sweet potatoes, I like to bake them until fully soft and beyond, because then they get a little caramelized, and then cut open and top with cinnamon, nutmeg, butter, organic honey and a sprinkle of dark brown sugar.
Tip for cooking with and feeding kids: Making foods that can be presented in a fun fashion works best in my home. For example, “ants on a log” and “funny faces” made out of crudites are big hits with my (very fickle) youngest daughter. Also anything that can be dipped into dressing or hummus always works wonders, because kids just love to dip things. When all else fails, I sneak things in. Blending up veggies and incorporating them into things like spaghetti sauce is a good way of getting a child to like something without them initially knowing it. I’m able to later explain to them how they do actually like carrots, they just didn’t realize it.
Before I came to VCP, I was much more of a wanderer. I’ve always worked with food and always loved it – but I’ve never felt so full of intention as I have since joining the team here.
My favorite vegetable: Fennel – roasted or raw. I serve it with lots of herbs, lemon and stronger flavors like lamb.
Tip for cooking with and feeding kids: Leading a kitchen full of kids is no different than leading a group of adults. Leave time for questions, never underestimate the power of imagination and always keep some cut resistant gloves handy.