In addition to the Mobile Teaching Kitchen‘s hands-on cooking demonstration, The Food Trust will be holding their Learn and Earn Market Walks. Starting at 11:30 a.m., participants have the opportunity to learn more about the farmers market and stretching their food budget with Philly Food Bucks. All participants will earn $6 in Philly Food Bucks to spend on fresh fruits and vegetables at the end of the walk.
We love getting feedback from the students and families who participate in our programs.
All of our programs strive to give kids the knowledge they need to be educated food consumers who can make decisions about their own health, so we couldn’t be more excited by this note from a mother of a student who participated in Vetri Cooking Lab at CHOP’s Healthy Weight Clinic:
I am blown away by how much she has taken in. She decided to make popcorn as a healthy snack, with no butter and adding garlic powder, Parmesan cheese or any other seasonings she feels like. This last class was the flat bread and dips, which were all delicious. In the car on the way home, [Name retracted] announced to me that the ranch dressing I have been putting in her lunch with her veggies is not very good for her — that we should make our own. I asked “How? Do I use sour cream?” She told me no, just get some Greek yogurt, dill, scallions and maybe some garlic powder and mix it together. She would like me to make this for her lunch snack instead of the kind I buy at the store.
I feel like having these really fun teachers in a kitchen with a bunch of kids has really empowered her to make smart choices on her own. [It’s] not her Mom telling her something is better for her — she is now telling me what is better. It has made making these choices not something she has to do, but something she wants to do. She wants to eat food that she knows what all the ingredients are, not stuff with words she cannot read in it and the stuff she has been making is so much tastier!! The teachers have done a great job!! We really appreciate having this opportunity!
We look forward to helping more kids, not only eat healthier today, but also go on to become healthy and empowered adults who can pass nutritional eating habits on to their own children!
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.
Learn more about our culinary team:
Carla Norelli, Director of Culinary Operations
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.
Sarah Cullen, Eatiquette Program Manager
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.
Amy Falkenstein, Community Outreach Manager
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!
Shalika Sprowal, Eatiquette Program Coordinator
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.
Mary Bullock, Eatiquette Program Coordinator
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.
“I can’t believe we aren’t teaching what used to be called ‘home ec’ to every kid in America today.
They’re not only making chicken chili, corn cakes, and kale salad with lemon vinaigrette. They’re learning science, technology, engineering, and math; how to listen to each other; how to inform their opinions and share them respectfully; how to make smart choices for their health; and the unwavering importance of etiquette, manners and the joy of eating with others.
If there was a Vetri Community Partnership Vetri Cooking Lab in every school, our kids’ futures would be even brighter.”
A healthy mind is key to healthy living so nourish that mind by watching some of these informative food-related documentaries! Learn more about the food industry, nutrition and school lunch reform through our selections:
A Place at the Table An examination of the issue of hunger in America focuses on the plight of three individuals from different parts of the country who struggle to find adequate nutrition. Watch ‘A Place at the Table’ Here
Cafeteria Man Chef Tony Geraci, food-service director for Baltimore’s public schools, spearheads a campaign to replace school lunches made of processed foods with locally grown, freshly prepared meals. Watch ‘Cafeteria Man’ Here
Yuck! Zachary Maxwell is a 4th grade student that goes undercover to expose the failed school lunch program in New York public schools. Watch ‘Yuck’ Here
Hungry for Change This documentary exposes the diet industry’s deceptive strategies designed to keep people from losing and keeping off weight. Watch ‘Hungry for Change’ Here
Fed Up An examination of America’s obesity epidemic and the food industry’s role in aggravating it. Watch ‘Fed Up’ Here
Lunch Line Weaves together history and agriculture, advocacy and bureaucracy, and frames the current debate over school lunch reform within a larger national and political context. Watch ‘Lunch Line’ Here
Super Size Me While examining the influence of the fast food industry, Morgan Spurlock personally explores the consequences on his health of a diet of solely McDonald’s food for one month. Watch ‘Super Size Me’ Here
On behalf of all of us at Vetri Community Partnership and the students we serve, thank you for helping us make the 2015-2016 school year a successful one. We are excited to share our mid-year impact report and provide you with a snapshot of our progress in the past year.
We were able to reach 1,500 more Philadelphia area students this year by expanding our programs to more schools and community centers. Meanwhile, we are developing innovative new programs, like Vetri Cooking Lab and the Mobile Teaching Kitchen, which will allow us to reach our community in new ways.
As we grow, we continue to focus on our mission of empowering children and families to lead healthy lives through fresh food, hands-on experiences and education.
Thank you for your support as we continue on this journey of ensuring that all children have the nutritional foundation they need to grow and thrive.
Marlene L. Olshan, CEO
Vetri Community Partnership
Nine-year-old Ava Terosky had plenty of good cooking tips to share with Marc Vetri and Senator Bob Casey when she joined them in the kitchen at Vetri Ristorante to show them how to make her “Sunny’s Omelet.”
Her top tips:
Dropping a bit of water in the pan to make sure it’s hot enough — if it sizzles, you can add your ingredients.
Swirling the butter around the pan to keep it from burning
Cutting her food into animal shapes to appease her picky sister
Ava is Pennsylvania’s winner of Michelle Obama’s 2016 Healthy Lunchtime Challenge, an honor that included an invitation to join the First Lady and the 55 other winners at the White House for the annual Kids’ State Dinner. Over the next year, she is tasked with the responsibility of being a healthy eating ambassador for the state.
We were honored to help Ava celebrate her win and support healthy choices by kids everywhere!
The 11th Annual Great Chefs Event on June 14th was another incredible success. The more than $700,000 raised through sponsorships, ticket sales and the live + silent auction will help fuel the missions of both Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation and Vetri Community Partnership.
Renowned chef Tony Maws, a pioneer of the “locavore” movement and “Nose to Tail” cooking, will join Marc Vetri in the kitchen at Vetri Ristorante. 18 guests will enjoy an intimate multi-course meal with wine pairings in the beautiful private dining room upstairs at Vetri. Four seats to the table have just been released.
All proceeds from this dinner benefit Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation and Vetri Community Partnership.
About Chef Tony Maws:
Since opening his first restaurant, Craigie Street Bistrot, in 2002, Chef Tony Maws has risen to international acclaim for his innovative and creative work in the kitchen, earning recognition as one of the country’s best chefs, including a James Beard Award for “Best Chef: Northeast” in 2011; “Boston’s Best Chef ” 2010, 2008, 2006, and 2003 by Boston Magazine; and Food & Wine magazine’s 2005 “Best New Chefs.”
Today, he operates two of greater Boston’s culinary gems: Craigie on Main in Cambridge and The Kirkland Tap & Trotter in Somerville. Known for his dedication to showcasing locally raised meats and produce as well as locally caught seafood, Maws remains committed to providing his guests the best tastes of New England and encourages them to rolling up their sleeves and mop up the plate in what he describes as “refined rusticity.”
Tickets are $2,500 per person and include a seat at the Tony Maws + Marc Vetri dinner on Monday, June 13, as well as VIP tickets to the11th annual Great Chefs Event at Urban Outfitters, Inc. corporate campus in Philadelphia’s Navy Yard on Tuesday, June 14. All proceeds benefit Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation and Vetri Community Partnership.
Private dining room at Vetri Ristorante.
1312 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107
Monday, June 13 at 6 p.m.
Purchase tickets by contacting Genevieve Lynch at firstname.lastname@example.org or 215-600-2630.
Start Conspiring with Your Friends to Snag One of these Once-in-a-Lifetime Live Auction Items
Attendees of the 11th Annual Great Chefs Event on June 14th have exclusive access to bid on these once-in-a-lifetime culinary experiences:
Dinner with Mario Batali for eight in the private dining room at Vetri Ristorante. Guests will enjoy Mario’s selection ofvintage Barolo wines and white trufflesfrom his personal stash.
Dinner in your home for twelve prepared by Vetri Family chefsMarc Vetri, Jeff Michaud and Brad Spence. Wine pairings selected by Jeff Benjamin.
Dinner in Marc Vetri’s home for ten with special guests Liz and Jay Scott. Menu by Marc Vetri and Michael Solomonov. Tablescape beautifully designed by Terrain. Guests start off with a cheese tasting and lesson from Doe Run Creamery cheesemakers.
Culinary trip to New Orleans for two including two breakfasts, two lunches and two dinners from Besh Restaurant Group. Includes airfare.
Don’t Miss the Culinary Event of the Year: A Limited Number of Tickets are Still Available
General admission tickets ($350) get you into the Great Chefs Event at Urban Outfitters, Inc. corporate headquarters in the Navy Yard for 40+ chef tastings, open bar,silent/live auction, and much more. After Party VIP tickets ($525) give you access to all that, plus the annual after party featuring more great food and drink and DJ Biz Markie in the courtyard at Lo Spiedo.
General Admission and After Party Access tickets are still available here.
Deschutes Brewery is returning to Philadelphia this summer with its pop-up pub of epic proportions is setting up shop on Saturday, June 11from 2 – 10 p.m. on South Street and South 2nd Street. The ultimate craft beer block party, this 402-foot custom bar will be pouring beers from 60 taps in partnership with Philly Beer Week. At each of its national stops, Deschutes Brewery works with local nonprofits to raise funds and gives 100% of the proceeds to aid their mission. In Philadelphia, Deschutes Brewery has again teamed up with Vetri Community Partnership (raised $38,000 in 2015) and added a new partner, South Street Headhouse District.
Not only will there be a huge selection of Deschutes Brewery beers flowing from the Street Pub’s multitude of taps, but there are some culinary delights in the works for all the foodies out there. Deschutes Brewery’s corporate executive chef, Jeff Usinowicz, is teaming up with local chefs and restaurants to create some dishes that complement the many beers being served (think everything from the brand-new summer seasonal Hop Slice Session IPA all the way to the big and bold flavors of The Abyss).
Local, live music from Boy Wonder, Nik Greeley and The Operators, Swift Technique and CRUISR will help to round out the festivities. Look for a special souvenir from Oregon-based McKenzie SewOn, which will be on site creating live, one-off local prints for the event.
When: Saturday, June 11, 2 – 10 p.m. Where: Headhouse Plaza at South St. & S 2nd St., Philadelphia, PA
Admission: Free for all ages
Calling all volunteers! We need your help to make this event a success and be able to raise the most money possible for the nonprofits. All volunteers will receive Deschutes Brewery swag, food, and, of course, beer for those that are of age. Interested? You can find details and sign up here: http://deschutesstreetpub2016.eventbrite.com/
Philadelphia, PA (May 12, 2016) – With a reputation nearly as big as the main event’s, the Great Chefs Event After Party is back at Lo Spiedo for the second year in a row with exciting new talent. A limited number of tickets are available for the After Party, which will take place on Tuesday, June 14th from 9:30 p.m. to 2 a.m., immediately following the 11th Annual Great Chefs Event. Tickets can be purchased at www.vetricommunity.org until they sell out.
The evening’s theme of delicious food and drink will continue with late-night bites provided by award-winning barbecue chef and After Party mainstay Adam Perry Lang (author of Serious Barbecue, BBQ25, and Charred & Scruffed), along with After Party newcomers and Philly favorites, Michael Solomonov (Zahav, Abe Fisher, Percy Street Barbecue, Dizengoff and Federal Donuts) and Kevin Sbraga (Sbraga, The Fat Ham, and Sbraga & Company). They’ll be serving dishes synonymous with their acclaimed restaurants – smoked short rib, donuts and hot fried chicken. After Party attendees will also be able to enjoy an array of donated beverages.
DJing at the After Party for the first time is hip hop legend, Biz Markie, who rose to fame in the late 1980s by weaving catchy lyrics, beatboxing and comedy into his music. His best-known song, “Just a Friend,” was a 1989 Billboard Hot 100 top-10 hit. Today, Biz can be found DJing and performing in clubs and concert venues all over the world and making appearances on television shows. His credits include VH1′s “Celebrity Fit Club”, Nick Jr’s “Yo Gabba Gabba,” Jimmy Kimmel Live!, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, and more.
Vetri Family’s Chef Brad Spence will continue the annual Vetri tradition of presenting an epic mortadella at the event. In collaboration with Victory Brewing Co., Spence will prepare the giant mortadella with the goal of beating last year’s 230 lb. weight by stuffing pork into a natural casing and cooking it in a fermenting cask for 24 hours at the brewery. The giant mortadella will be transported to Lo Spiedo for the after party and served with mayo and hot pepper relish.
Culinary partners for the Great Chefs Event After Party include Julius Silvert, Baldor, Samuels & Sons, DiBruno Bros., and Niman Ranch. The Chef’s Warehouse and Starr Restaurants are the official After Party sponsors.
The Great Chefs Event After Party is an annual tradition for participating chefs, sponsors, volunteers, and after party ticketholders to relax and have fun in an atmosphere usually reserved for industry insiders. The festivities are a way for the Vetri Community Partnership and Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation to thank everyone who makes the Great Chefs Event a continued success.
Access to the Great Chefs Event After Party is limited to participating chefs, sponsors and After Party Access ticket holders. Only 100 After Party Access tickets are available, with about a quarter of those already sold. After Party Access tickets include entrance to the Great Chefs Event and can be purchased for $525 each through www.vetricommunity.org
Sponsorship opportunities begin at $1,000 and include access to the After Party. For information on how to become a sponsor, contact Genevieve Lynch at the Vetri Community Partnership at email@example.com or 215-600-2630.
Congratulations to the 2016 James Beard Award Winners, including Four 2016 Great Chefs Event Participants
Best Chef: New York City Barbuto, New York City
Best Chef: West Animal, Los Angeles
Book of the Year Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking
(Rux Martin Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Best New Restaurant Shaya, New Orleans
Part of the Besh Restaurant Group
New Ventures: ‘Great Chefs’ are On the Move
Jennifer Carroll Opens Requin in Fairfax, Virginia
ORIGINALLY OPENED as a temporary pop-up, Jennifer Carroll’s French Mediterranean restaurant Requin will reopen permanently in Fairfax, VA’s Mosaic District. Next summer, the concept will also open in Washington, D.C.
From the menu:
Mussel & clam escabeche with sweet bell peppers, citrus, sherry vinegar and evoo
Sweet and sour prawns with fennel confit, citrus glaze and cilantro
THE LATEST chef to announce a foray into the prepared foods delivery business, Jonathon Sawyer has teamed up with Mod Meals, which partners with Cleveland area chefs to deliver fresh, healthy, locally-sourced meals to doorsteps.
From the menu:
Grilled ramen & cheese
Whole roasted eggplant with marinara and Parmesan cheese
Andy Ticer + Michael Hudman Open in NOLA’s Ace Hotel
HIGH SCHOOL friends, culinary partners and 2016 James Beard Award finalists, Andy Ticer and Michael Hudman brought their Southern/Italian fusion most recently to New Orleans where they opened Josephine Estelle in the Ace Hotel.
From the menu:
Snapper crudo with brown butter, hazelnuts, sunchokes, celery leaf and meyer lemon
Rigatoni with Calabrian sugo, fontina, pickled peppers and crispy prosciutto
Vetri Community Partnership founders Marc Vetri and Jeff Benjamin are passionate about giving back to all of the communities in which they do business. So ever since they opened Pizzeria Vetriin Austin, we’ve been excited to support Austin, TX schools in creating healthy environments for their students!
Last week, we awarded the following school initiatives with $2,500 grants:
Made to Order Entree Salad Bars at Blanton, Brown, Winn, Norman, and Oak Springs Elementary Schools
Made to Order Entree Salad Bars at Thompson, Ortega, Rodriguez, Williams, and Widen Elementary Schools
Breakfast in the Classroom at Langford Elementary
Healthy Futures for All Students Garden and Cafeteria Initiative at KIPP Austin
After the checks were presented, Marc cooked up a healthy, low-cost salad and it was announced that the salad would be on Austin ISD school lunch menus next year.
Thank you to all of our Austin partners!
See more photos from the event on our Facebook page here.
PHILADELPHIA, PA (APRIL 6, 2016) – On Tuesday, June 14, more than 45 of the best chefs from across the country and around the world will convene in Philadelphia for the 11th annualGreat Chefs Event hosted by the Vetri Family restaurants and Vetri Community Partnership. The event will benefit Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation and Vetri Community Partnership. More than 1,200 guests will gather from 6-9 p.m. at the beautiful Urban Outfitters, Inc.’s corporate campus in Philadelphia’s Navy Yard for the culinary event of the year. The party will continue into the night at the equally in-demand After Party at Lo Spiedo for chefs, sponsors and VIP ticketholders. General admission and VIP tickets are currently on sale at https://www.showclix.com/event/greatchefsevent/.
As in years’ past, Marc Vetri has hand-selected the list of participating chefs, calling on friends and respected colleagues from LA, NYC, Chicago, Italy and more. The chefs will donate their time, talent and food, creating delicious samplings indicative of their own personal styles. Participating chefs include both veterans of the event, as well as several noteworthy newcomers. Among the new participating chefs this year are David Chang of Momofuku Noodle Bar, Momofuku Ssam Bar, Ma Peche and others (NYC and elsewhere) and Robert Irvine, host of the Food Network’s Restaurant: Impossible, Worst Cooks in America, cookbook author and more. Returning chefs include Michael Symon, Food Network Iron Chef and co-host of The Chew, Paul Kahan of Blackbird, avec, The Publican and Big Star in Chicago, and for the first time since 2009, Bobby Flay of Bobby’s Burger Palace (19 locations across 11 states) and host of Food Network shows, such as Throwdown! With Bobby Flay.
Several of this year’s participating chefs have also been named finalists in the 2016 James Beard Foundation Awards, including Rising Star Chef of the Year finalist Matt Rudofker (Momofuku Ssam Bar, NYC), who will be featured alongside David Chang, and regional Best Chefs finalists Michael Cimarusti (Connie & Ted’s, LA), Jon Shook & Vinny Dotolo (Animal, LA), Andy Ticer & Michael Hudman (Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen, Memphis), Greg Vernick (Vernick, Philadelphia), and Jonathan Waxman (Barbuto, NYC). A full list of chef participants can be seen here.
Representatives from the country’s best bars, wineries, and craft breweries will also be present, including Neal Bodenheimer of Cure in New Orleans, which was recently named a James Beard Foundation Awards finalist for its Outstanding Bar Program, Naren Young (“Fork and Shaker”), and Jesse Vida (The Dead Rabbit, NYC).
In addition to the stellar selection of food and drink, guests will have the opportunity to bid on silent and live auction items. Auction items include one-of-kind culinary experiences, such as private dinners with participating chefs, hard-to-get concert tickets, autographed memorabilia, and much more.
At the Great Chefs Event After Party at Lo Spiedo, VIP ticketholders and sponsors of the event will have the exclusive opportunity to rub elbows with all of the event’s talented chefs in a laid back setting. Acclaimed barbecue chef Adam Perry Lang will be behind the grill once again, joined for the first time by James Bead Award Outstanding Chef finalist Michael Solomonov who will be representing Federal Donuts. After Party guests can also count on additional bites from select food trucks and vendors, as well as specialty cocktails and entertainment.
To kick off the Great Chefs Event festivities, Marc Vetri is hosting an intimate six-course dinner with wine pairings for 18 in the private dining room of Vetri Ristorante with acclaimed Boston chef and James Beard Award-winner Tony Maws of Craigie on Main and Kirkland Tap & Trotter. Limited tickets to this event are on sale at https://www.showclix.com/event/greatchefsevent/.
Sponsors for the 11th annual Great Chefs Event include Urban Outfitters, Inc., The Emerson Group, Northwestern Mutual, Volvo, Advanced Staging Productions, Courtyard Marriot in the Navy Yard, 452 design, Color Reflections, Chef’s Warehouse, Joss Realty, Cashman & Associates, PIDC and Liberty Property Trust, Creekstone Farms, David Stout & Martine Lamoureux, SEI Wealth Platform, Vibrant Development Group, LLC., Drs. Jordana & Ben Cooperberg, Scott and Susan Bentley Fund, The Brown Family and NFI Industries, CHOP – Department of Pediatrics, Curt & Susan Parnes, Permit Capital Advisors, LLC., OpenTable, Rock-It Cargo, Aramark, Jeff Warden & Heather Chalmers, Cozen O’Connor, Judd & Andrea Tirnauer, Bill & Mary Alice Dankulich, Paperless Solutions, Inc., Hirshorn Boothby since 1931, Penn Jersey Paper, Philadelphia 76ers, Garrett Snider, Chip & Phyllis Marshall and Maripeg Bruder.
Sponsorship opportunities begin at $1,000 and include early access to the event and admission to the After Party. For information on how to become a sponsor, contact Genevieve Lynch at Vetri Community Partnership at firstname.lastname@example.org or 215-600-2630.
General Admission tickets are $350.00 per person; VIP tickets include access to the exclusive After Party at Lo Spiedo and cost $525.00. To purchase tickets, visit www.showclix.com/event/greatchefsevent
One of the pillars of the Eatiquette program is for school administration and teachers to have a presence in the cafeteria during lunch. We find that when teachers share Eatiquette meals with their students, they are able to demonstrate healthy eating habits and connect with their students outside of the classroom. We spoke to KateLerner, a second-grade teacher at Julia De Burgos Elementary School to learn how the Eatiquette has impacted her school.
How has Eatiquette changed the culture and climate of your school?
I feel that culture and climate has been changed for the positive. On Eatiquette days, one of my grade partners eats with her class, and I’ve even seen a few specialists join us. Best of all, the students are engaged in the experience, and actually sit and enjoy a nice, family dining atmosphere.
Do you eat lunch with students on Eatiquette days? Did you eat with students before Eatiquette? How has this change been for you?
I do eat lunch with my students, and I absolutely enjoy it! Previously, I did often stop by the cafeteria, just to check in with my class, but I never sat and had lunch and conversation with them. The change has been wonderful; I’ve learned more about many of my students, and I really enjoy seeing them try new dishes and talk about their experiences with their families.
To her surprise, and my delight, she tasted it, and told me with wide eyes that she really liked it, and asked for more!
What’s been the most popular Eatiquette dishes among teachers and students?
I really don’t know what has been the most popular. I know that at the most recent meal, a student asked me to only serve her three or four pieces of broccoli because she doesn’t like it, but she’d try it. To her surprise, and my delight, she tasted it, and told me with wide eyes that she really liked it, and asked for more!
Are there any students whose eating habits, health, academic success, behavior, etc. you’ve seen changed by this program?
I’ve seen a number of students, who usually elope from the lunchroom or are running around inside the lunchroom, sitting, talking with classmates and teachers, and showing more respectful behavior.
Anything else you’d like to add about the program and your experience?
I’m a very enthusiastic diner and supporter of the Vetri Eatiquette program. I wish we could do it in every school, every day!
Title: Director of Culinary Operations for the Vetri Community Partnership
Who’s Next because: A graduate of the Le Cordon Bleu culinary program at the Orlando Culinary Academy, Norelli is now Director of Culinary Operations at the Vetri Community Partnership where she has a special focus on healthy eating and healthy living. She works directly with schools to help them serve better lunches to their students à la the Eatiquette program, a school lunch program that has kids eating nutrient-rich scratch-made meals at round tables in a family-style fashion. Under her direction, Vetri Community Partnership has grown to partner with more than 45 schools in Philadelphia and Camden. She also teaches an introductory culinary arts training class to eighth and ninth-grade students at the Free Library of Philadelphia’s Culinary Literacy Center. The person who nominated her said: “Her can-do attitude and health focus has been a driving force in VCP’s expansion over the past year and a half.”
Could the way that vegetables are prepared and served actually encourage more children to eat them? Debra Zellner and a team of researchers from Monell Chemical Senses Center observed school lunches, including the Eatiquette program, to find out.
Partnering with the Vetri Community Partnership and sensory scientists from the Monell Chemical Senses Center, food psychologist Debra Zellner spent the past school year observing student lunches at two Philadelphia schools located in low-income neighborhoods.
On sabbatical from Montclair State University, Zellner — an established scientific expert on food acceptance — had stepped out of the lab and into the school lunchroom to ask whether the Eatiquette program’s scratch-made, chef-inspired dishes actually lead school children to eat more healthily. Funded through a grant to Monell from the Barra Foundation, the team decided to focus on the amount of lunchtime vegetables eaten by 3rd and 4th graders.
Zellner watched as many kids simply discarded vegetables such as steamed string beans from the non-Eatiquette meals. Conversely, when served the cooked-from-scratch Eatiquette meals, most students ate more of the vegetables, which ranged from baked sweet potato fries to kale and barley salad.
The data showed that children served Eatiquette lunches did indeed learn to like their veggies. In the beginning of the school year, only 31 percent of the kids ate all their cauliflower when it was served – even though it was well prepared á la Eatiquette. Fast forward four months of Eatiquette lunches and 70 percent chowed down their entire serving of cauliflower.
Noting that school might be the only place where some children have a chance to eat a wide variety of vegetables, Zellner says that “when those vegetables are repeatedly unappetizing, the kids learn to eliminate vegetables from their diet.” She sees Eatiquette as providing kids with a more positive perspective on healthy food.
“The Eatiquette principles are helping the kids to eat more veggies,” said Zellner.
As a volunteer with the My Daughter’s Kitchen program, Che Che Bradbury chose students who hadn’t quite found their niche in school and gave them an opportunity to succeed at something different. And that opportunity transcended cooking.
When I learned about the opportunity to volunteer with My Daughter’s Kitchen, I thought it would be so fun to mix two of my passions: kids and food! When I learned that I would be able to bring this program to my own school, it took my excitement to an entirely new level.
As a special education teacher, I am often concerned that many of my students do not experience success in the classroom. And as they become older, they really become aware of their learning differences and, as a result, their self-esteem suffers. So, when I chose my first group of students to participate in My Daughter’s Kitchen, I chose five boys from 6th and 7th grades that hadn’t been doing well in the classroom, whether because of a learning disability or behavioral difficulties.
It was amazing to see what transpired over those eight weeks. Students who were never sought out to take the lead in the classroom were shining as leaders in the kitchen. Students who had difficulty following adult directives were accepting constructive criticism and using the feedback to improve. Students who needed prompting to do traditional class work were taking initiative and following tasks to completion.
My Daughter’s Kitchen provided these students with so much more than I had ever expected. I knew how important it was to introduce the kids to healthy eating options, something many of them have not been exposed to. What I hadn’t expected was the impact that this program had on them in all the other ways I witnessed. Attitudes improved. Behavior improved. Attendance improved. But above all else, self-confidence improved. And three of the five boys have recently applied to culinary programs in high school, too! This opportunity may very well put them on the trajectory to a good career and a better life.
Partner school principals point to Vetri Community Partnership programs as a key ingredient to improving school culture, promoting attendance and helping the more than 5,900 students we serve make healthier choices in and out of school.
When Memphis Street Academy Charter School CEO Christine Borelli first witnessed Vetri Community Partnership’s Eatiquette program in 2013 at Cristo Rey High School, she was impressed by the leadership among students in the table captain roles and the socialization that occurred around a family-style meal. Immediately, she sought to get the program in her Kensington school.
“The [Vetri Community Partnership] is one-million percent aligned with our school’s mission,” she said.
Unable to launch the program due to facility limitations, Borelli adopted parts of the program, such as the round tables in place of long, institutional ones and real plates instead of portioned trays. She also had a fresh salad bar installed and implemented a policy banning unhealthy outside food. Still, she felt that Eatiquette’s freshly made, healthy meals would help take her mission one step further.
Less than two miles away at Julia De Burgos Elementary School, Principal Maritza Hernandez was eager to bring Eatiquette to her school because she felt the family-style dining would “encourage students to build relationships, have actual conversations, and share ideas.”
This fall, Vetri Community Partnership partnered with Lintons Managed Services to bring Eatiquette to 830 students at Memphis Street Academy and the School District of Philadelphia Division of Food Services to bring Eatiquette to 800 students at Julia De Burgos Elementary School.
According to Borelli, the program is changing the fabric of her school.
“I’m excited to walk in the lunchroom and see the kids owning the program,” she said. “When they’re sitting at round tables, passing food to one another, there’s a certain level of trust and community that they’re building. Having this program says [to the students], ‘We trust you and we want you to have every opportunity because we care.’”
(Originally published in Vetri Community Partnership’s 2015 Year in Review newsletter)
In celebration of the opening of Pizzeria Vetri in the city of Austin, the Vetri Family Restaurants and Vetri Community Partnership are announcing four $2,500 grants to be offered to schools in the Austin, Texas school system.
Founded in 2008 by Chef Marc Vetri and restauranteur Jeff Benjamin (also founders of the Vetri Family Restaurants), the Vetri Community Partnership empowers children and families to lead healthy lives through fresh food, hands-on experiences and education. Today, its school lunch program, after-school programs, culinary arts training programs and summer programs serve more than 5,900 students at 45 schools in the Philadelphia area.
This series of $2,500 grants are to be used by schools in Austin, Texas to either improve the food served in the school cafeteria or to make changes or improvements to the physical space in the cafeteria.
Here are some examples:
• Incorporating scratch-made recipes or scratch cooking to the menu offerings in your school that Vetri Community Partnership can provide.
• Adding round tables and chairs to the cafeteria
• Basic cafeteria improvements such as small wares- re-usable utensils, plates, tumblers, water pitchers
• Adding a salad bar or other nutritionally advantageous menu items
• Basic improvement of the environment. For example, paint, murals, sound system, etc.
• Adding an afterschool cooking club/class (curriculum and guidance could be provided)
• Something we haven’t thought of. Please be original! We would love to hear your ideas about what would enhance the student dining experience in your cafeteria.
Grantees will participate in reporting, data collection, and conference calls with grant manager through-out the grant year. Expenses, receipts, photos, and grant reports will be submitted to grant manager throughout the course of the grant.
Letters of Intent to apply on January 25, 2016. After reviewing your grant application, we will invite top contenders to submit a grant application, by February 15, 2016. Grant applications will be due on February 28, 2016.
All questions should be sent to Jennifer Wheeler, Director of Programs at the Vetri Community Partnership at email@example.com.
Beginning immediately, the Vetri Foundation for Children will be known as Vetri Community Partnership and its tagline will be Eat. Educate. Empower.
Vetri Community Partnership began its healthy eating and food education programming in 2010. Since then, the organization has grown to include a school lunch program, after-school programs, culinary arts training programs, and summer programs for children. Today, it empowers more than 5,900 children and families to lead healthy lives through fresh food, hands-on experiences and education.
“Our new name, Vetri Community Partnership, better communicates who we are and our new tagline – Eat. Educate. Empower. – encapsulates what it is that we do,” explained organization founder Marc Vetri.
On Monday, it was announced that Vetri and his business partner Jeff Benjamin have agreed to sell their restaurant group, the Vetri Family, to Urban Outfitters, Inc. Vetri Community Partnership was not included in the acquisition and will continue to operate as an independent 501(c)3 organization. Vetri Community Partnership is positioning itself for growth in Philadelphia and nationwide as the Vetri Family restaurants expand to new markets – in Austin, TX this month, Washington D.C. in 2016 and more cities moving forward. As the Vetri Family restaurants continue to expand, Vetri and Benjamin are committed to bring their healthy eating message to all communities they serve.
As a result of the local growth and anticipated expansion, the Vetri Community Partnership has hired Marlene L. Olshan as Chief Executive Officer. Marlene served formerly as CEO of Big Brothers, Big Sisters Southeastern Pennsylvania, as COO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America and as a Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Human Services for the City of Philadelphia. Kelly Herrenkohl, who has served as Executive Director since 2012, will assume the role of Chief Operating Officer. Both Kelly and Marlene will lead the effort to bring more healthy initiatives to underserved schools and communities.
“We are thrilled to have Marlene on our team and are excited for this new chapter. We look forward to serving even more children and families,” said Herrenkohl.
Our founders Marc Vetri and Jeff Benjamin announced today that they have agreed to sell their restaurant group, the Vetri Family, to Urban Outfitters Inc. The Vetri Foundation for Children is not a part of this acquisition and will continue to function as an independent 501(c)3 organization. The Vetri Foundation will continue its work of empowering children and families to lead healthy lives through fresh food, hands-on experiences and education.
This exciting announcement affects us in that we anticipate growing our presence into new markets as the Vetri Family Restaurants expand their reach. We, along with our founders, are committed to giving back in all communities that we serve.
Vetri Foundation chefs, Culinary Literacy Center staff and author Leanne Brown (far right)
Last night, Leanne Brown, author of Good and Cheap, visited the Free Library of Philadelphia’s Culinary Literacy Center.
While kneading dough for pierogi and searing fresh green beans to create recipes from her cookbook, Leanne answered questions and spoke about the larger issue of food insecurity – the driving force behind her creation of the book.
“People have a lot of fear when it comes to cooking,” she said. “They feel like the outcome might not be worth the effort. And for those on a tight budget, that’s a risk that they might not want to take.”
She explained that the key is giving people the confidence to cook for themselves and her hope is that Good and Cheap serves as a valuable resource toward that goal.
Leanne got her start working in policy and earned her master’s degree in food studies at NYU. She was struck by the number of people living on food stamps – more than 47 million – and saddened that much of that money was being spent on cheap processed foods that negatively impact their health.
“It was frustrating,” she said of working in policy and trying to create change on the federal level. When she started researching for Good and Cheap, she saw it as a way that she could address the issues facing families in the immediate.
Good and Cheap is currently available for download for free online and distributed to people in need through food pantries and nonprofits across the country. The cookbook is full of what Leanne calls “workhorse recipes” that are flexible depending on what’s in season or available locally.
“Good and Cheap doesn’t talk about why people are hungry. I know it’s a band-aid to some larger issues,” she said. “But, it’s so people can have the good food and joy they deserve to have right now.”
When the cafeteria staff at AIM Academy were told that they would have a Day of Service, they immediately thought of giving back to the Vetri Foundation’s Eatiquette program. Having been a partner of the Foundation since 2012, they understand the effort that goes into serving fresh, healthy meals in schools and thought it would be a good way to give back, as well as possibly learn something new in the process.
We set them up to help out at Global Leadership Academy Charter School, another Eatiquette partner school serving nearly 800 students — much larger than AIM’s population of around 300 students.
“Everything just takes longer,” said Jesse, a chef at AIM. “Tasks, like setting up the trays, that would usually take me less than 15 minutes to do, required more time and more people to complete.”
The size of the school wasn’t the only difference — the kitchen equipment varied. Rachel, another chef at AIM, said that while AIM has a sprawling stovetop that would make preparing the day’s turkey bolognese sauce a breeze, she was envious of GLA’s oven, which quickly and evenly roasted the broccoli so it was perfectly cooked, but crispy.
AIM’s staff even got a chance to get out of the kitchen and sit down with GLA students for lunch. Most of the students offered up their opinions of the meal — the pasta and broccoli were favorites from last year — and asked for seconds.
All in all, they had a great experience helping out at another partner school. They sent us this note after:
“It was our absolute pleasure and privilege to work with Amy and the staff at Global Leadership Academy. It was inspiring to work with such a dedicated, hard-working group of people. It was really great to see how a much larger school runs the Eatiquette program. Sitting, conversing and getting the youngest students to try the pasta, broccoli and cinnamon apples/peaches was definitely a highlight. The kids were awesome!!
Thanks to all of the Vetri staff for the work that you do, and for allowing us to join another Foundation school for the day.
When the Vetri Foundation chefs were asked to create a menu for an in-home dinner they were excited to put their fine dining experience to work. Although they are passionate about feeding kids healthy, fresh school lunches, they never turn down a chance to get creative!
When longtime supporter and volunteer Greg Acinapura and his fiancé Melody Regino contacted us about donating to the Vetri Foundation in lieu of gifts to their guests, we were honored! What’s more is that they also wanted to use it as an opportunity to introduce their guests to the work we do. We are so lucky to have their support. Check out We Laugh We Love‘s beautiful photos below.
Melody + Greg — Thank you again for allowing us to have a part in your special day!
The Vetri Foundation has received a $40,000 grant from William P. Gest Memorial Fund, the Lillian Gest Memorial Fund, the William M. and Helen M. Detwiler Memorial Fund, the Thomas G. Ashworth Memorial Fund, and the John B. Gest Memorial Fund of The Philadelphia Foundation to support an in-depth evaluation of the Eatiquette program. The grant was announced by Pedro A. Ramos, President and CEO of the Foundation.
Kelly Herrenkohl, Executive Director of the Vetri Foundation, said the grant would be used to help fund a comprehensive program evaluation of the Foundation’s innovative Eatiquette school lunch program, which will be conducted by the Public Health Management Corporation(PHMC).
Eatiquette aims to transform a child’s lunch from the traditional cafeteria assembly line to an environment where children gather around round tables, pass plates of food to one another and experience social interaction and communication. Children learn to serve each other, to respect those who prepared their food and appreciate how healthy food makes them feel. They leave the lunchroom fueled up both physically and psychologically ready to tackle the afternoon’s learning challenges.
“The feedback we’ve received so far from principals and administration at our partner schools has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Herrenkohl. “This study will help us understand exactly how Eatiquette is influencing students to make healthier choices, how the program helps improve school culture and attendance, and what lessons students are taking home to their families.”
Throughout the 2015-2016 school year, PHMC will be collecting information to determine how Eatiquette impacts students’ nutritional intake, affects meal time and classroom behavior, impacts the home and family, and the effect Eatiquette has on students’ perspectives and attitudes about healthy food. The complete study is estimated to be released September 2016.
The SummerThyme Cooks finished off their final week with pizza-making and lots of fun toppings, most of which just happened to be purple: eggplant, purple bell peppers, Vitelotte potatoes (a blue-violet French variety of potatoes), and plums.
They started with the dough first, discussing how yeast is a living thing that likes a warm environment in order for it to ferment and make the dough rise. Chef Sarah Cullen likened it to giving a baby a bath.
“The water can’t feel too hot on your skin,” she said. “It should feel pleasant.”
The chefs used their wrists to find the perfect temperature because it is more sensitive than the hand, according to Cullen. Then, with a little math lesson thrown in, they figured out what line to fill to in the measuring cup. Once they put the water in, the smell of the happy yeast was unmistakable.
“Who’s a good yeast?” Sophia said comically in a baby voice into the bowl.
While they kneaded the dough to develop the gluten that gives it the nice chewy consistency of pizza crust, the girls got to talking about cooking at home, their favorite types of dogs, and whatever other topic came to mind.
“My mom doesn’t have time to cook that much because she’s always working!” said Sophia, a little exasperated.
The little chefs finish cutting up all the yummy pizza toppings.
“Well, now you can do it!” countered Cullen. “That’s the great thing about this class!”
Cullen explained that pizza dough is a great recipe to prepare the night before if tomorrow’s schedule looks too busy. The dough can go in the fridge overnight and just needs time to rise at room temperature before you use it. For the class, they sped up the process by sitting the dough to rise near the heated stoves covered with a wet cloth so it wouldn’t dry out.
For the pizza sauce, the girls cut up tomatoes and onions and put them in a pot to cook down. As the ingredients splashed in, Cullen tipped the pot away from them so they wouldn’t get splashed with hot juices — another handy kitchen trick to keep in mind.
While the dough rose and the sauce cooked, Cullen showed the girls how to make a simple pesto using fresh basil, garlic, parmesan, salt and olive oil. It was as easy as combining all of the ingredients in the food processor and blending them nicely.
The whole group (even the staff) decorate a pizza for the last-day feast.
It was a free-for-all as everyone began topping their personal pizzas. There was a plum, potato, cheddar and caramelized onion pizza, a pepper, tomato and mozzarella pizza, a pesto, eggplant and mozzarella pizza, and a whatever-you-want-to-put-on-it pizza.
“Nobody did just plain pizza,” Sophia pointed out, surprised at how willing everyone was to try something new on an old favorite.
When asked what their favorite dish overall had been over the past four weeks, Sophia pointed to the pizza without hesitation.
“This and last week’s recipe,” said Landry.
As everyone grabbed their take-home ingredients and headed out, they made sure to say that they would be back again next year. They couldn’t wait to make more recipes, experiment with even more flavors, and make more friends at SummerThyme Cooks.
From filming to editing, and applying graphics, 2one5 Productions donated a video highlighting the 10th Great Chefs Event to raise money for Alex’s Lemonade Stand and the Vetri Foundation.
“It’s important to our team here at 2one5 Productions to give back to the community and causes that we’re passionate about,” says Nikolas Greenblatt, Founder of 2one5 Productions. “The Great Chefs Event is a beautiful event supporting a great cause, and we look forward to donating our services again.” GREAT CHEFS EVENT – 2one5 Productions
The SummerThyme Cooks got their fill of summer vegetables this week with savory summer cobbler and cornmeal crusted vegetables. They made the cobbler with tomatoes, summer squash, zucchini, eggplant and corn, and they crusted all the extras from those, plus green beans, green tomatoes, and red bell peppers.
Vetri Foundation Chef Carla Norelli explained that while cobblers are typically sweet desserts, they were going to make one that is served as an appetizing main dish. She pointed out all the vegetables that they would be preparing, but admitted she had forgotten to buy garlic. In its place, they were going to use a shallot.
“Shallot is like if garlic and onion got married and had a baby,” she said to sum up exactly what flavors they would be adding to their dish.(more…)
“We’re making something delicious out of garbage,” said VFFC Chef Sarah Cullen as she explained how to make a more flavorful soup stock by using the unwanted scraps from the vegetables that they chopped.
It was round two for the corn soup and “things on toast” recipes, and to keep it interesting, Cullen and Education Coordinator Maddy Booth decided to have roasted red peppers and parmesan cheese on the toasts instead of the salty broccoli, along with the usual caramelized onions and cheddar.
The group started out with the onions since they would need a lot of time to slowly cook down in the low-heated pan. They cut them, melted butter, and threw them in the pan. There was a little bit of crying from all the onion-chopping going on, but Cullen shared a trick that if one breathes heavily through the mouth, it will suck up the flying juice before it hits the eyeball and stings. (more…)
This week was the start of a new session of the SummerThyme Cooks program and with it came a new group of eager young chefs ready to try their hand at cooking. Eleven-year-olds Landry, Olivia, and Sophia opened up very quickly as VFFC Education Coordinator Maddy Booth started with the basics of kitchen safety and using fresh produce. Booth emphasized that many fruits and vegetables are covered with chemicals called pesticides when one buys them, and they must be washed thoroughly before using them in a recipe. The girls were very knowledgeable on the subject.
“[Pesticides] makes things that aren’t ripe become ripe,” said Sophia.
“It keeps the bugs away,” added Landry.
The “Dirty Dozen” list has the information on what produce tends to have a lot of pesticides on them, while the “Clean Fifteen” list tells what produce is not so chemical-covered. Both can be found here. (more…)
“Bread is risen with farts! All this time you’ve been eating yeast farts!” said Cullen with enthusiasm, producing giggles throughout the group.
VFFC Chef Sarah Cullen was explaining the process for making pizza doughfrom scratch. Unlike the quick bread the kids made last week, pizza dough needs yeast so it will rise and bake properly. Yeast are little bacteria that eat the sugars in the flour and release gas as they metabolize it, causing air bubbles to form.
After pouring the yeast in with the flour and water, everyone leaned into the bowl to get a whiff of the yeast at work.
“It actually does smell like farts!” Alex said jokingly. (more…)
An important message that the Vetri Foundation for Children tries to teach its SummerThyme Cooks is to eat healthy and cook with fresh ingredients. The chefs learned this week that the best way to do this is to buy produce at local farmer’s markets to get fruits and vegetables that are in season and grown as close to home as possible. Most of the kids had already been to one before and happily shared what produce they had bought before.
“A big watermelon!” said Branch
“Blueberries,” said sisters Mickayla and Maria.
“Lemons,” said Dwyer.
Meghan Filoromo (center) explains where to find seasonal produce and how to qualify for the Philly Food Bucks program.
Meghan Filoromo, Food Bucks Outreach Associate from The Food Trust, led the talk, explaining the produce grown in each season and the practices of local farmers that makes their food more sustainable. Instead of throwing out the extra parts of the plants that they don’t sell, they compost it and use the decomposed matter as soil for the next batch of crops. She also explained why you can’t find certain fruits, like bananas, at these markets.
“When they’re from somewhere else and not grown here, they’re too expensive to bring here,” she said.
Jamaal added that bringing in produce from far away also “wastes energy.”
Shopping for produce at the farmer’s market also allows shoppers to give their money directly to the farmer who’s growing the food, often at cheaper prices than you’d find at a supermarket.
Filoromo also talked about the Philly Food Bucks program through SNAP that allows participants to redeem Food Bucks coupons to purchase fresh produce at local farmer’s markets. This way, people in need of financial assistance for food have the ability to buy better ingredients. (more…)
One of the main goals of SummerThyme Cooks is not only to show our young cooks how easy it is to cook at home by arming them with a few good recipes, but also to convey the importance of home cooking as a way to get and stay healthy.
This week the SummerThyme Cooks made corn soup and something Leanne Brown, author of “Good and Cheap” cookbook, calls “Things on Toast.” For this class, those “things” were salty broccoli and caramelized onionswith cheese. But before starting the preparation, VFFC Chef Sarah Cullen talked through the recipes with the kids while explaining the health benefits of eating home-cooked food instead of eating out.
“Cooking controls what you’re eating,” Cullen said. “It’s a good way to take control of your health.”
According to the Center for American Progress Action Fund, low-income areas often have scarce fresh options and are instead surrounded by fast-food restaurants offering processed foods at a relatively low cost. Working parents in these areas are faced with making a tough decision when it comes to meals and too often the cheaper, more convenient, but unhealthy, option wins out.
However, the Vetri Foundation for Children believes that with a little kitchen and shopping know-how, families are more likely to prepare their own food. In fact, all of the ingredients the kids were using for the soup and toasts cost just $3.75. They couldn’t believe how little fresh foods could cost! (more…)
Way up on the fourth floor of the Parkway Central Free Library in Philadelphia, you’ll find a kitchen built perfectly for little chefs to whip up some tasty dishes. With eager faces, a small group of fifth and sixth graders arrived for the Vetri Foundation’s Summer Thyme Cooks, a four-week program where they learn how to prepare healthy meals with fresh ingredients while also learning basic cooking skills, like chopping, measuring and sautéing.
This week, the ten-year-old chefs-in-training, Alex, Branch, Mickayla, Maria, Jamaal, and Dwyer, prepared “breakfast for dinner,” which included eggs three ways and homemade banana pancakes. But, before they got started, VFFC chefs Sarah Cullen and Stacey Clarke went over a slew of kitchen safety rules, including the proper way to use a knife, how to pass it to a friend, and what to do if something sharp falls off the table.
“You know how it’s a reflex to catch something when you see it falling? Well, we all need to unlearn that. You never want to try to catch a knife when it’s falling,” said Cullen.
VFFC Chef Sarah Cullen shows the kids all the vegetables that they are going to use in the recipes.
The class nodded in agreement.
Then, Cullen introduced the class to the fresh ingredients they were going to use — tomatoes, kale, rainbow chard, zucchini, broccoli, long hots and more — to make scrambled eggs, strata and a Mexican dish called migas.
Cullen emphasized that the recipes were meant only to be a foundation for the meal and that they could use any veggies that they have on hand. Cullen chose recipes specifically for their versatility, keeping in mind that many inner-city households often have difficulty acquiring fresh ingredients. (more…)
As schools let out for the summer, the Vetri Foundation for Children is gearing up for two sessions of our popular Summer Thyme Cooks program at the Free Library of Philadelphia’s Culinary Literacy Center. The four-week program, aimed at 5th and 6th-grade students, teaches hands-on cooking skills, such as reading recipes, buying groceries, and creating healthy, budget-conscious meals. After each class, students will leave equipped with recipes and a bag of groceries to take home to their families.
This year’s curriculum is based on food studies scholar Leanne Brown‘s “Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/Day” cookbook. The cookbook is based on the $4 a day given by SNAP, the U.S. government’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps. For every copy of the cookbook sold, one will be donated to a family in need to ensure that those who need it most receive it. The book is also available for download here.
Vetri Foundation chef Sarah Cullen says the program will focus on recipes that are versatile, such as pizza and omelets, to demonstrate how easy it is to swap in whatever ingredients you have on hand.
Tune in weekly for blog posts about Summer Thyme Cooks and featured recipes.
Philadelphia, PA (June 10, 2015) — The 10th annual Great Chefs Event was another huge success for the Vetri Family and Vetri Foundation.
Key highlights of the evening:
• 1200+ guests in attendance
• 250+ volunteers
• Once again, we exceeded our fundraising goals – more than $800,000 raised for Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation & the Vetri Foundation for Children.
• Some of the most popular dishes of the night included Charles Phan’s gau choy gau (shrimp & watercress dumpling), Masaharu Morimoto’s hamachi, soba & black barley, corn, pickled red onion & miso, and Nancy Silverton + Dahlia Narvaez’s butterscotch budino with rosemary pine nut cookies.
• The event was hosted by 6ABC’s Alicia Vitarelli and Marc Summers.
• Among the featured speeches were those by Vetri Family Restaurants and Vetri Foundation Co-founder Jeff Benjamin and Liz Scott, Co-Executive Director of Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. They each thanked the event’s sponsors and participating chefs for their support and spoke about how the money raised goes toward programs that change the lives of the children they serve.
Live Auction highlights:
• $72,000 raised
• Culinary tour of Northern Italy for 6 led by Marc Vetri and Jeff Michaud went for $21,000.
• The latest in the Great Chefs Event auction rivalry between Vetri Family chefs Brad Spence and Jeff Michaud: The winning bid for Brad Spence’s “Beast of Amis” in-home dinner for 10 was $14,000. Jeff Michaud’s Bergamascan feast featuring his mother-in-law, Mama Pina, sold twice for $10,000. Debates about who won this round are ongoing…
Silent Auction Highlights:
• A few fabulous items sold well into the thousands, including:
o Weekend in Charlotte, NC with Chef Rocco Whalen, including breakfast and dinner at Fahrenheit, as well as tickets to the Eagles vs. Panthers game.
o A weekend in New Orleans for 2 featuring breakfast at Luke, lunches at both Borgne and Johnny Sanchez, and dinners at August, Domenica & Shaya, all Besh Restaurant Group restaurants.
• Overall, the silent auction totaled nearly $100,000.
After Party Highlights:
• This year’s after party was held as Lo Spiedo. DJ Questlove kept the party going well into the night for chefs, volunteers and sponsors.
• The after party featured smoked brisket from Adam Perry Lang (Serious Barbeque) served with Texas toast and spicy pickles. Out-of-town guests were treated to a little “taste of Philly” with cheesesteaks from Pat’s Steaks and Tony Luke’s, and Little Baby’s Ice Cream.
Extravagant dinners, behind-the-scenes industry tours, and culinary experiences are the keystone of the 10th annual Great Chefs Event auction. Proceeds benefit Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation and the Vetri Foundation for Children.
Philadelphia, PA (May 27, 2015) — The 10th annual Great Chefs Event auction is now open and available for bid. Bids will be accepted online now through Tuesday, June 9, the night of the Great Chefs Event. All auction items, with the exception of live auction items to be bid on at the event, are available online here. More items will be added daily. You do not need to be present to bid on or win Great Chefs Event auction items. All auction proceeds benefit Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation and the Vetri Foundation for Children.
As always, the auction features one-of-a-kind culinary experiences with award-winning chefs all over the country, as well as Vetri Family Restaurant’s very own chefs and staff.
Live auction items will include:
(You must be in attendance to bid on these live items, or call our office (215-600-2630) and we will assign someone to bid in your stead):
Four-day culinary tour for 6 of Northern Italy led by Marc Vetri and other chefs.
A wood-burning pizza oven (just like the one at Pizzeria Vetri) for your backyard donated by Renato Riccio, the founder and owner of Renato Ovens, Inc. The winning bid includes installation and a pizza party for 25 in your backyard featuring Vetri Family Restaurant
Chef Brad SpenceChefJeff Michaud – for the past two years, these two friends and Vetri Family chefs have gone head to head in a silent auction competition – each offering a chef-made dinner in home. Spence is undefeated so far. This year, we bring the competition to the live auction:
Chef Brad Spence (Amis) has brought back his “Beast of Amis” in-home dinner for 10. You pick the beast, Brad and his team prepare a four-course menu including wine pairings.
Chef Jeff Michaud (Osteria) is offering the ultimate family dining experience – an authentic Bergamascan feast for 10 in his home (or yours) with special guest chef, Mama Pina, his mother-in-law who will be visiting from Bergamo, Italy.
Silent Auction Items include:
Dinner for six at the kitchen counter of Amis with Chef Brad Spence and MasterChef Junior runner-up Andrew Zappley, a 7th grader at Holy Trinity Regional School in southern New Jersey.
Football Weekend in Charlotte, NC for 6, including hotel arrangements, brunch and dinner at Fahrenheit, and Eagles vs. Panthers game with Chef Rocco Whalen.
Pasta-making class and dinner for 10 with Chef Brad Daniels at Osteria.
Culinary weekend for two in New Orleans, including airfare and meals at Luke, Borgne, Johnny Sanchez, August, Domenica and Shaya. Donated by the Besh Restaurant Group.
Behind-the-scenes wine class and tasting for 6 with Vetri Ristorante sommelier Bobby Domenick in the private dining room.
Chef inspired getaways to New York, Los Angeles, Phoenix, and Boston, plus top Philadelphia dining packages.
Fabulous made-to-measure suits and fashion items from Zegna, Isaia, Canali and more.
Getaway to Miami with a stay at the Ritz-Carlton Biscayne Bay and dinners at the restaurants of our participating chefs.
Deschutes Brewery is packing up the world’s largest pop-up pub and heading over to Philadelphia for one day only on Saturday, May 30. The ultimate craft beer block party, this 402-foot custom bar will be slinging beers from 40 taps at Headhouse Square (South and S 2nd Streets). At each of its national stops, Deschutes Brewery will be donating 100 percent of proceeds from Street Pub to charity. In Philadelphia, Deschutes Brewery has teamed up with the Vetri Foundation which helps kids experience the connection between healthy eating and healthy living.
Not only will there be a huge selection of Deschutes Brewery beers flowing from the Street Pub’s outrageous number of taps, but there will be great food to pair with it. Alla Spina, Lo Spiedo, Mom Mom’s Polish Food Cart, and The Twisted Tail will be serving up food to complement the beers (think everything from the easy-drinking Mirror Pond Pale Ale all the way to the big and bold flavors of The Abyss). Deschutes Brewery’s corporate executive chef, Jeff Usinowicz, will be cooking up some favorite pub fare right on site as well.
This family-friendly event will also features bar games for prizes, special samplings and live music by DJ Williams Projekt with special guest Boy Wonder. Deschutes Brewery Street Pub’s grand opening is also its final night, so make sure to be there for this one day only event!
When: Saturday, May 30, noon-10 p.m.
Where: Headhouse Plaza at South St. & S 2nd St., Philadelphia, PA
Admission: Free for all ages
In partnership with: City Tap House and Vetri Family Restaurants
After Philadelphia, the Street Pub will make appearances in the following cities:
August 1: Cleveland, OH
August 22: Chicago, IL
September 19: Minneapolis / St Paul, MN
October 17: Denver, CO
November 14: Sacramento, CA
For more information on each stop visit www.DeschutesBrewery.com/streetpub or follow the conversation at #StreetPub.
Community Partnership School, an Eatiquette partner school, hosted its annual spring fundraiser, “Celebrate CPS…An Evening in Tuscany,” on Thursday, April 30 at Vie, 600 North Broad Street, in Philadelphia. Funds raised through “Celebrate CPS” directly benefit the students and families of CPS, an independent elementary school in North Philadelphia dedicated to providing high-quality education to children from low-income backgrounds.
Jeff Benjamin, co-founder of The Vetri Family of Restaurants and the Vetri Foundation for Children, was honored for his vision and commitment to improving the lives of Philadelphia school children through education and nutrition initiatives. Jeff has served on the Board of Trustees at CPS since 2007 and has been influential in ensuring the school’s participation in the Vetri Eatiquette lunch program.
“Jeff’s dedication and generosity exemplifies the type of commitment every board should be so lucky to have manifest in its members,” said Eric Jones, Head of CPS. “His undying dedication and relentless work have benefitted each and every one of our students, as well as children throughout the Philadelphia area.”
Philadelphia, PA (May 4, 2015) – The Vetri Foundation for Children is pleased to announce that Grammy Award winning musician, DJ, and culinary entrepreneur, Questlove, will join us as the official DJ for the Great Chefs EventAfter Party presented by The Navy Yard and Liberty Property Trust. The After Party will take place on Tuesday, June 9 from 9:30 p.m. to 2 a.m., immediately following the 10th Annual Great Chefs Event, outdoors at Lo Spiedo, Marc Vetri’s newest restaurant, located in Philadelphia’s Navy Yard.
DJ Questlove’s appearance at the Great Chefs Event After Party illustrates the Philadelphia native’s support for the charities behind the event — Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation and The Vetri Foundation for Children. This will be the fourth time in five years attendees will get to hear him spin for the exclusive event.
The After Party is an annual tradition for participating chefs, sponsors, volunteers, and after party ticketholders to relax and have fun in an atmosphere usually reserved for industry insiders. The festivities are a way for the Vetri Foundation for Children and Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation to thank everyone who makes the Great Chefs Event a continued success.
In addition to DJ Questlove’s performance, the After Party will feature great food and drink. After party attendees will get exclusive late-night bites from Pat’s King of Steaks, Tony Lukes, Little Baby’s Ice Cream, and acclaimed barbecue chef Adam Perry Lang (author of Serious Barbecue, BBQ25, and Charred & Scruffed). Beverages will be provided by Boulevard Brewing Co., Brooklyn Brewery, Laird and Company, Muller Beverage, Philadelphia Distilling, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Victory Brewing Co., and Yards Brewing Co. Tito’s Handmade Vodka will be parking its branded vintage 1965 Airstream trailer at the event, which will serve as a lounge featuring signature cocktails made with Tito’s Handmade Vodka.
Chef Brad Spence, executive chef and co-owner of Amis, will continue the annual Vetri tradition of presenting an epic mortadella at the event. In collaboration with Victory Brewing Co., Spence will prepare a 230 lb. mortadella (up from 210 lbs. last year!), stuffed into a natural casing, and cooked in a fermenting cask for 24 hours at the brewery. The giant mortadella will be transported to Lo Spiedo for the after party and served carved to order with mayo and hot pepper relish.
Food sponsors include Debragga, Julius Silvert, and Niman Ranch. The Navy Yard and Starr Restaurants are the official After Party sponsors.
Access to the after-party is limited to sponsors and After Party Access ticket holders. Only 100 After Party Access tickets are available, with about a quarter of those already sold. After Party Access tickets include entrance to the Great Chefs Event and can be purchased for $525 each through www.vetricommunity.org
Sponsorship opportunities begin at $1,000 and include access to the after party. For information on how to become a sponsor, contact Genevieve Lynch at the Vetri Foundation for Children, (215-600-2630), firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sponsors for 10th annual Great Chefs Event include Emerson Group, Urban Outfitters Inc., Northwestern Mutual, Cashman & Associates, Advanced Staging Productions, Color Reflections, Ten Speed Press, 452 Design, Aramark, Creekstone Farms, Joss Realty, David Stout & Martine Lamoureux, Macerich, PREIT, Vibrant Development Group LLC, Drs. Benjamin & Jordana Cooperberg, Pearl Properties, The Navy Yard, Starr Restaurants, Courtyard by Marriott, All-Clad, Alterra Property Group LLC, Jessica Berwind, The Brown Family and NFI Industries, CHOP – Department of Pediatrics, Independence Blue Cross, Curt & Susan Parnes, Rock-It Cargo, AlliedBarton Security, Andrea Biondo & Ken Hartzell, Bill & Mary Alice Dankulich, Dan & Kathy Dugan, Drexel University Center for Hospitality and Sports Management, Garrett Snider, Jeff Warden & Heather Chalmers, Ralph & Natalie Hirshorn, Judd & Andrea Tirnaur, Cozen O’Connor, M&T Bank, Michael Gruber Designs, Paperless Solutions Inc., Philadelphia Eagles, RowZone Indoor Rowing & Fitness Studio, SAFARI Montage, Melissa & Daniel Tasse, Maripeg Bruder, Michael Gruber Designs, Chip & Phyllis Marshal, Tierney, DA Risa Vetri Ferman and Michael Ferman.
The Free Library of Philadelphia’s Culinary Literacy Center and all of its partners were featured in WHYY‘s 30-minute arts, culture and entertainment magazine, Friday Arts, that features three segments: “Art,” “Art of Life” and “Art of Food.”
WE LOVE INSTAGRAM. You know why? Because chefs love Instagram. And, recently, our feeds have been constantly full of creative and inspiring dishes from this year’s Great Chefs Event participating chefs.
We can’t wait to see what magic they come up with for the Great Chefs Event on Tuesday, June 9th, but until then we have these delicious looking ‘grams to hold us over.
Matt Accarrino – SPQR – San Francisco | @mattaccarrino
On Tuesday, June 9, more than 40 of the best chefs from across the country and around the world will convene in Philadelphia for the 10th annualGreat Chefs Event hosted by the Vetri Family restaurants and the Vetri Foundation for Children. The event will benefit Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation and the Vetri Foundation for Children. More than 1,200 guests will gather at the beautiful Urban Outfitters, Inc.’s corporate campus in Philadelphia’s Navy Yard for the culinary event of the year. The event’s equally in-demand After Party will be held at Lo Spiedo, Vetri’s newest restaurant, for chefs, sponsors, and VIP ticketholders, making this the first time the event is completely Navy Yard-based. Tickets are currently on sale here.
Marc Vetri has hand-selected the list of participating chefs, calling on his friends from around the world, top talent from LA to NYC, Chicago to Italy. The chefs will donate their time, talent, and food, creating delicious samplings for guests at the walk-around tasting gala. Representatives from the country’s best bars, wineries, and craft breweries will also be present, including Joe Campanale, beverage director and co-owner of L’Apicio, L’Artusi and dell’anima in NYC, Gary Fish, founder of Deschutes Brewery in Bend, OR, and many more. Back to emcee the event again this year is Alicia Vitarelli, co-anchor of 6abc’s Action News at 4 p.m. and its weekly entertainment program, FYI Philly.
Participating chefs include veterans of the event, as well as several noteworthy newcomers. Returning chefs include Food Network Iron Chef and co-host of The Chew, Michael Symon and his co-host on Food Network’s new show, All Star Academy, Alex Guarnaschelli, as well as Bravo Top Chef: Masters contestant, Jonathan Waxman. Several of this year’s participating chefs have also been named finalists in the 2015 James Beard Foundation Awards, including host Marc Vetri for Outstanding Chef and regional Best Chefs finalists Matthew Accarrino (SPQR), Jon Shook & Vinny Dotolo (Animal), Jonathon Sawyer (Trentina), Marco Canora (Hearth), Alon Shaya (Shaya), Michael Cimarusti (Providence), among many other past years’ winners and nominees. Philadelphia’s culinary scene is being represented by Jose Garces (Garces Group), Kevin Sbraga (Sbraga Dining), Daniel Stern (R2L), Michael Solomonov (Cook N Solo), and Masaharu Morimoto (Morimoto). Great Chefs Event newcomers include Matt Rudofker (Momofuku Ssäm Bar), Benjamin Ford (Ford’s Filling Station), Matty Matheson (Parts & Labour), and Tony Maws (Craigie on Main). Click here for full list of participating chefs.
In addition to the stellar selection of food and drink, guests will have the opportunity to bid on silent and live auction items. Auction items include one-of-kind culinary experiences, such as private dinners with participating chefs, hard-to-get concert tickets, autographed memorabilia, and much more.
Back in January, the Vetri Foundation for Children team spent the day with reporters from BBC Newsround, a news program aimed at children in the UK. Their story was on childhood obesity in America — it’s cause and effect on communities throughout the country. They approached us to gain some insight on our Eatiquette program, which they saw as a possible solution to childhood obesity issue.
The resulting videos aired last week and we couldn’t be more proud to be recognized across the pond for the work we’re doing here to improve the health and nutritional foundation of children in Philadelphia.
Last Thursday I was given the privilege of seeing the Vetri Foundation for Children’s very own Eatiquette program in action.
Arriving at the school by 9 a.m., preparation for the meal was already well on its way. What was on the menu for the day, you ask? A barbecue chicken sandwich, salad with homemade dressing, apple-carrot slaw, and fruit with a scoop of frozen yogurt to top the meal off.
Every day the chef announces the meal to the students before it’s served. Until I attended an Eatiquette lunch, I had never heard a group of kindergarteners cheering over a meal — a healthy one at that. They were more than ready to dig in.
“Why do you like the sandwich?” I asked a 6-year-old student named Destiny.
“Because it’s sweet,” she said.
“I like it too!” came from across the table.
“Same! It’s spicy!” from the other side.
Conversation was no stranger to these children. The kids were happy, they were smiling, and they were eager to tell me why they loved the food they were being served. And when asked why they loved it, it wasn’t just “because,” but rather an answer filled with adjectives to describe the taste, texture, and appearance.
Every student, from what I observed, was willing to at least try all part of their meal — nothing like some of the picky 5, 6, and 7-year-olds I’ve known. Whether they were taking tiny bites of their sandwiches, carefully deciding whether they liked it or not, or devouring it quickly — the point was, they were trying healthy, delicious food that they may have never tried before.
For me, it was exciting to see these children so happy to eat a school lunch. You could sense their excitement as they waited for the chef to come out and the happiness they had as they heard what they were going to be served. You could see the positive interactions between the young children as they conversed with one another over their meal. In one lunch period, I saw the impact that this program has on the lives of the kids who participate in it. These students felt important. I didn’t just see a school lunch, but rather an interactive meal shared amongst friends.
This past semester, Building 21 High School students spent their Wednesday afternoons in the Free Library of Philadelphia’s Culinary Literacy Center with Vetri Foundation chefs to learn about food and basic kitchen skills. Yesterday the semester culminated in a Food Network-style cook-off, dividing the class into four teams led by Vetri Foundation chefs, Carla, Sarah and Shalika, and Marc Vetri. Each team created an appetizer, first course and second course. The winning team, led by Carla, took home gift cards to Pizzeria Vetri.
I cannot adequately describe in words what a wonderful start we had today to My Daughter’s Kitchen at Olney Elementary School. Each one of our boys presented themselves and behaved so maturely, I couldn’t have been more proud! They were all so excited to see that we had chef coats and aprons for them to wear!
They were meticulous in their measuring of ingredients and really prided themselves in their ability to follow the recipe and successfully cook the oatmeal. While my husband showed them proper handling of the knives, they boys took it all in quite seriously and each were able to demonstrate the basic cuts of slicing and dicing.
And when it finally came time to enjoy the fruits of their labor, they topped their bowls of oatmeal with delicious strawberries, bananas, apples, coconut, walnuts and brown sugar. [Olney Elementary School]principal, Michael Roth, stopped by and had a taste, too!
From their journals:
Terrence Graves, grade 7: “I like how the group is and I like our teachers and how they teach. I learned how to use a knife.”
Hasain Harrison, grade 6: “The organic oatmeal was so good and I love it.”
Kenneth Davila, grade 7: “I think “My Daughter’s Kitchen” is a really helpful program for kids to learn to cook, work together, and learn to enjoy healthy foods in different ways. In my opinion, I enjoyed cooking with people that I never met and I believe “My Daughter’s Kitchen” should be in every school.”
Josue Morales, grade 6: “I learned today how to make oatmeal and learned to cut and hold a knife. And I liked the oatmeal I think it was good.”
We can’t wait until next week!!!!!
— Che Che Bradbury
For more information about My Daughter’s Kitchen, click here or visit Philadelphia Inquirer food editor, Maureen Fitzgerald’s blog here.
An Excerpt from co-founder Jeff Benjamin’s new book Front of the House: Restaurant Manners, Misbehaviors & Secrets out on Tuesday, March 17 on Amazon. Publisher Burgess Lea Press donates 100 percent of after-tax publishing profits from Front of the House to the Vetri Foundation for Children and Drexel University School of Culinary Arts.
Whenever I meet people who are curious about the restaurant business, they ask how I handle the long, hard hours. I counter with the old adage, “Find a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.”
Regardless of their profession, I don’t know any successful people who aren’t “always working.” I love the hospitality industry and have since the day I first punched the time clock at a catering company when I was a teenager. If I had found another calling in life, I would have worked just as hard to be successful.
But no job is as hard as being a father. Nothing is as important as consistently setting a good example for my children. I believe that they understand a healthy work ethic and hope that we show that to them daily. But sometimes I wonder if they really get it, and I wonder how a conversation might go if the topic were raised at the dinner table.
“Dad, what would you do if I didn’t get an A in school?”
“I’d ask if you tried as hard as you could and gave it your best effort.”
“What if I did and I still didn’t get an A?”
“Then I would be proud of you for trying so hard, and I would help you set goals to do better next time.”
“So I wouldn’t get in trouble?”
“Of course not. There are two instances where you can get in trouble with me for school performance. One is if you don’t do your best; and you just said you did your best, so you’re safe there.”
“What’s the other?”
“If you stop being nice to others. I can stand just about anything, but if the principal called to tell me my daughter wasn’t a good person, that would probably be the worst thing I could think of.”
I have the same theory with my extended family—the Vetri Family—and I look at the whole group as my kids, in a sense. How do you get kids to act in a manner you would choose for them? Set an example.
Very early in our partnership, Marc and I made a commitment to each other that if we were to become profitable, we would also become philanthropic. We are, after all, in the service industry, and if we had the means, we should serve the community at large as well as the guests in our dining room. At first, we figured that we would simply give to charity in the form of distributing restaurant gift cards to be used in auctions that raise money for good causes, picking the nonprofit organizations that did work that was close to our hearts. (more…)
Originally published on Philly.com by Samantha Melamed
Maybe it was the squad of cheerleaders they brought with them, chanting, “Burrito! Burrito!” Or maybe it was their sweet-and-savory recipe for apple, cheddar, and sausage breakfast burritos, giving new life to those presliced apple snack packs kids normally tend to reject in the cafeteria.
Either way, for the second year running, culinary arts students from A. Philip Randolph Career and Technical High School were victorious in the Culinary Voice. The annual competition, organized by the School District of Philadelphia and the city Department of Public Health’s “Get Healthy Philly” initiative, challenges district culinary students to develop nutritious and appealing recipes for school cafeterias.
Randolph’s winning recipe, cooked up by a team of students at the Free Library’s Culinary Literacy Center on Thursday morning, will appear on the menu at all 86 of the district’s full-service cafeterias.
“This year, they are really interested in increasing breakfast participation, particularly now that breakfast and lunch are free throughout the district, and many more kids participate in lunch than breakfast,” said Mica Root, a Get Healthy Philly program associate. “We want to make sure they’re starting their day nourished and ready to learn.”
The district is serving about 60,000 breakfasts a day, compared with 90,000 lunches. That means about half of students are skipping school breakfast.
Students received a list of available ingredients, and the federal guidelines, including requirements that each meal contain servings of various components, such as whole grain, protein and fruit or vegetable.
“They really came face-to-face with the reality that school food-service workers face very day,” Root said.
Murrell Dobbins students offered a healthy option: a vegetable scramble with cheese in a wrap, using frozen broccoli, peppers, onions, and mushrooms.
“Our focus was on health and the reality of food services actually being able to do this,” Dobbins culinary teacher Penny Greenberg said.
Ikea Jasper and Emily Martes, seniors at Swenson Arts and Technology High School, put forward a sausage-and-caramelized-banana sandwich on a croissant, inspired by a favorite childhood meal of Jasper’s. It impressed the panel of judges, which included students, food service staff, and chefs Elijah Milligan and Marc Vetri.
“I’ve had a restaurant for 17 years now, and I learned something this afternoon,” Vetri said: “Sausage, when you eat it with bananas, it’s really good.”
Jasper and Martes said they saw participating as a line on their resumés – and also a way to improve their own morning meals.
“We can put out a good breakfast for once,” Martes said.
Jasper agreed: “Sometimes it’s really gross,” she said, citing cold breakfast sandwiches and yogurt parfaits laced with mushy fruit. “That’s one reason we wanted to do this.”
Still, Wayne Grasela, senior vice president of food services for the School District, said offerings have improved drastically.
In the last three years, 37 limited-capacity cafeterias have been converted to full-service kitchens; 13 more will be converted over the next year, he said.
But he acknowledged challenges around food costs, staffing, and federal nutrition guidelines.
The district is reimbursed $2 for each breakfast it sells, and $3 per lunch.
Those funds must cover not just ingredients, but also equipment and staff.
Grasela said the district is still aiming to better serve students, which is one reason the Culinary Voice is valuable. He’s also planning to run social media surveys in March to get even more feedback.
“Students are our customers,” he said, “and to have them provide input on what we’re serving in the school is outstanding.”
Competition was fierce, but only one student-led team could win this year’s Culinary Voice, school food competition.
Murrell Dobbins High School McDobbins Breakfast Club entered a veggie scramble.
Swenson Arts and Technology High School Culinary Arts’ Team Awesomeness prepared a croissant sausage sandwich with a secret ingredient — bananas! None of the judges had ever experienced the combination, but were impressed by how well the two complemented each other. It was inspired by one of the student’s favorite childhood snacks.
The A. Phillip Randolph High School’sRandolph Raptors (2014 Culinary Voice winners) prepared a sausage, apple, and cheddar breakfast burrito.
Chop, chop — the veggie scramble begins to come together.
Croissants head to the oven to warm up.
The Raptors begin rolling burritos against the clock. Time was running out!
Judges — chefs Marc Vetri, Elijah Milligan (Just to Serve You and the forthcoming Grain), food service managers Pat Cook (Roberto Clemente/LINC Middle School) and Lawanda Spratley (Benjamin Franklin High School), and students Takeyah Chriswell (Food Science senior at W.B. Saul High School) and Jennica Nugent (10th grader and Wellness Club president at Northeast High School) — carefully taste each dish and offer up their opinions.
In the end, the A. Phillip Randolph High School’sRandolph Raptors were chosen as the winners once again because of their tasty and creative dish, and their evident teamwork. Congrats Raptors!
For more on Culinary Voice 2015, check out the hashtag #PHLCulinaryVoice on Twitter and Instagram or visit Get Healthy Philly.
After the success of the 2014 Culinary Voice, it’s come time for round two! The Culinary Voice 2015 will feature student-designed breakfast dishes. Just like last year, the winning dish will be put into regular rotation at all full-service School District of Philadelphia school cafeterias, serving more than 59,000 students.
The competing dishes are Murrell Dobbins High School McDobbins Breakfast Club’s veggie scramble, A. Phillip Randolph High School’sRandolph Raptors’ sausage, apple, and cheddar breakfast burrito, and Swenson Arts and Technology High School Culinary Arts’ Team Awesomeness’ croissant sausage sandwich.
“The District wants to make sure that all students who need breakfast get breakfast,” says Mica Root, Get Healthy Philly program associate. “The hope is that getting student input on what breakfast items are served – and even introducing student-designed items to the menu – will increase the appeal of eating breakfast.”
The winning dish will be selected by a panel of judges, including chefs Marc Vetri, Elijah Milligan (Just to Serve You and the forthcoming Grain), food service managers Pat Cook (Roberto Clemente/LINC Middle School) and Lawanda Spratley (Benjamin Franklin High School), and students Takeyah Chriswell (Food Science senior at W.B. Saul High School) and Jennica Nugent (10th grader and Wellness Club president at Northeast High School).
Last year’s winners from A. Philip Randolph Career Academy.
Root is excited about this year’s addition of students and School District of Philadelphia food service managers to the judging panel. She says that the experience of the food service managers will allow them to “weigh in with the perspective of the staff charged with preparing students’ food on a daily basis.”
Although there can only be one winner, Root says that every student who participates is helping to shape school food in Philadelphia.
“[This competition gives students] a voice in ongoing conversations about how to improve school food, an opportunity to apply what they are learning in the classroom in practical and impactful ways, and a chance to use their skills and creativity to impact the health of their fellow students across the city,” says Root.
The Culinary Voice 2015 will be taking place on Thursday, February 26th at The Free Library of Philadelphia’s Culinary Literacy Center. Check back to see who the winner and proud creators of the 2015 breakfast dish will be!
In addition to Get Healthy Philly, the School District of Philadelphia’s Divisions of Food Services and Career and Technical Education, and the Free Library of Philadelphia, the 2015 Culinary Voice is also co-sponsored by local nonprofits Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP), The Food Trust, and Vetri Foundation for Children.
The nutrition education component of Eatiquette, called Culinary Classroom, gives students the opportunity to get hands-on with their food. This month’s lesson revolves around a kale, squash, and chicken quesadilla.Maddy Booth, assistant program coordinator, says the focus is on seasonal ingredients and the explanation that in-season vegetables are your body’s best bet for getting optimal antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. Booth gets the kids excited about kale by boasting its many benefits, including strong bones and healthy teeth.
“The kids loved eating the kale raw, some trying it for the very first time!” Maddy says. “And, strangely enough, we’ve experienced that the kids love eating the stems, even though our recipe specifies discarding them. Perhaps it’s the novelty, but the fact that kids are scarfing down kale is quite an achievement!”
Program manager Carla Norelli says that the recipe has been a hit because many students are already familiar with the kid-friendly quesadilla.
“We have been able to broaden their concept of a quesadilla by suggesting that they add vegetables to it and substitute fat-free Greek yogurt for sour cream to help make their at-home versions healthier,” Carla explains.
“All of the kids have been very excited to have us there,” says Maddy. “And it’s certainly a highlight for our chefs, who spend most of their time in the kitchen making these recipes, to actually interact with students.”
A little over six years ago, we assembled our first meeting at a dining room table at Osteria. From that moment on it was clear that the Vetri Foundation would be a trailblazer in the fight for our children’s futures.
There is basic agreement that our kids, especially in underserved communities, have not been given the ability to have a healthy lifestyle. However, simply giving them food is not the answer. So, we sought to transform the lunchroom into a classroom, where food is not an afterthought, and the “lunch lady” is more of a teacher/chef. This is the very epitome of the adage “Give a man a fish he eats for a day; teach a man to fish he eats for a lifetime.” We are teaching kids to fish and encouraging them to teach their families.
The most surprising part of the journey to date has been the overwhelming willingness of the kids to participate in our Eatiquette program. The excitement surrounding the daily announcements and the look of wonderment as a child bites into her first taste of fresh fruit still gives me chills.
Early struggles with key decision makers have been replaced with a strong desire to engage with us, making the impact of the program, not only possible but, a great reality.
It costs a mere $0.30 more per student per day to provide high-quality nutrition education and healthy meals. And that number is getting even smaller with every new efficiency implemented.
The time is now. The conversation surrounding childhood nutrition has never been so prevalent. Continued support from our current donors and an increase in our base are crucial to make the greatest impact in the coming year. I hope you’ll consider adding your support.
Each day, 200,000 kids in Philadelphia arrive at school ready to learn. Please help us provide the nutritional foundation they need to ensure a healthy, well-educated future.
Jeff Benjamin Vetri Foundation for Children Co-Founder and Board Member
The Vetri Foundation for Children is a tax-deductible nonprofit organization.
There are still a few hours left to benefit from charitable deductions on your 2014 tax return.
Frustrated with serving “satellite” lunches, the term for the cellophane-covered lunches prepared and packaged in factories and then shipped to schools, William H. Ziegler Elementary School principal Paul Spina put “improving school lunch” on his to-do list.
Students were throwing more than half of their lunch in the trash and out-right complaining about the quality. He knew that if they left school hungry, they were most likely going to fill up on food from one of the school’s nearby fast food places or mini-marts.
“I needed to support them somehow,” Paul says.
Ziegler switched to full-service lunch, but Paul still wanted to amp up the impact.
And then, almost by accident, he was introduced to the Vetri Foundation. He’d been making a plea at a School Reform Commission meeting about wanting to provide better quality lunches and actually utilize the food service equipment in his school’s cafeteria.
Kelly Herrenkohl, Vetri Foundation executive director, and co-founder Jeff Benjamin happened to be sitting in the audience.
After learning about the Eatiquette program, Paul was all in.
“This is an experience that my kids and this community aren’t going to get under any other circumstances,” he says. “I was willing to take on the extra work to make it happen.”
First, the lunchroom at Ziegler was transformed from its institutionalized look – bare, nondescript walls and long cafeteria tables – to a vibrant one featuring round tables and the school’s colors, blue and gold.
Paul says that the lunchroom has become a place where people want to be and that it’s strengthened the school’s community.
“It builds culture and a sense of pride. The teachers come out and sit with the students during lunch,” he says. “Which they are not obligated to do. It’s exciting, especially for my younger groups. They think it’s the best thing to have their teacher sit and eat with them.”
When Paul originally thought about changing school lunch, he was only thinking about the food. But, the change he’s witnessed in his school has been far-reaching.
“I tell my students that this is like dining in a fancy restaurant and their behavior reflects that,” he says. “They place the napkins in their lap and pass food around the table. They feel special and like someone thinks they’re important.”
― Danielle Zimmerman (Originally published in the Vetri Foundation’s 2014 Year in Review newsletter)
Philadelphia Inquirer food editor Maureen Fitzgerald and the Vetri Foundation partnered in 2013 to expand the reach of Maureen’s afterschool cooking classes.
The mission is simple — to teach schoolchildren to prepare healthy, easy meals on a budget. Maureen and a team of 32 volunteers are teaching in 15 schools across Philadelphia and Camden. In 2014, 125 students participated.
Cindy Rappoport and Amy Steinberg began volunteering earlier in Spring 2014 after reading Maureen’s weekly column in the Inquirer where she details her experiences in the kitchen with the students.
For the past two semesters, Cindy and Amy have been assigned to five middle school students at Juniata Park Academy.
“I really like being in the kitchen and being around these kids,” says Cindy. “Here are these kids – 11, 12, 13 years old – and they are just so incredibly eager to do everything – cook, cut, learn. I love being around that kind of energy.”
Amy says that it’s rewarding to watch the students learn and grow in multiple ways over the course of the eight weeks that she works with them.
“They’re learning how to measure things and read recipes. They are getting better at planning and timing the recipe,” she says. “Those are math, reading and time management skills.”
Although the students who participate in the program often show up with little to no previous experience in the kitchen, both Amy and Cindy see a striking difference by the end of the semester and believe that they imparting valuable life skills.
“We’re teaching them that they can eat healthy and that it’s important to eat healthy. When they learn that early on, they will take that with them into adulthood,” Amy says.
Cindy, who is always looking for ways to give back to the community, says that there’s something particularly fulfilling about the time she spends volunteering with My Daughter’s Kitchen.
“I’ve been a volunteer in lots of different ways. What I like about the Vetri Foundation is that it’s as hands-on as you can get. I am literally up to my elbows in parmesan cheese every week,” she laughs. “I’m a doer, and this program satisfies that side of me.”
― Danielle Zimmerman (Originally published 12/17/14in the Vetri Foundation’s 2014 Year in Review newsletter)
“Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go!” Marc Vetri hustled the kids as they ambled in for their last cooking class yesterday at the Free Library of Philadelphia’s Culinary Literacy Center. As they slung down their backpacks and jackets, the spirit of competition permeated the room – the 18 students from Building 21 would put their cooking skills to the test to impress a panel of judges in the Final Throw Down.
There was no introduction and not a recipe in sight; the three teams got to work right away, preparing an appetizer and main dish they had conceptualized with one of the overseeing chefs last week. Carla Norelli, Vetri Program Manager, Joan Jablonoski, Vetri Program Coordinator, and Chef Marc Vetri helped facilitate each team of six.
This was the last class of a semester-long program for 18 freshmen at the new Building 21 high school. The summer before the school opened in 2014, the Vetri Foundation for Children developed a culinary arts curriculum for the school, including a class taught weekly by Marc Vetri. In addition to practicing general cooking skills, the students learned how to butcher a whole lamb and make pasta from scratch, and were taught the importance of utilizing locally grown produce.
Clearly, the students had learned a lot; their confidence was evident.
Kevin, on Norelli’s team, seasoned ground beef, added cheese, and formed it into small patties. “Then, when you bite into it, it’ll be all cheesy on the inside,” he told me, his eyes widening in anticipation.
Jablonoski’s team member Anass expertly chopped onions with ease, his left hand in the proper ‘bear claw’ position to protect his fingertips. He said he helps with cooking at home, and plans to make the fettuccini alfredo recipe he learned in the class for his family.
Other students worked expertly with the pasta making attachment on the KitchenAid – rolling out the dough, flouring it and pushing it through the roller slowly and evenly. The whole class had gotten a lesson in pasta the week before from the maestro himself, Marc Vetri, and were excited to incorporate it into their competition dishes.
As the dishes came together, the judges – Jeff Benjamin (co-founder of the Vetri Foundation), Hillary Van Anda (Building 21 science teacher), Tara Ranzy (Building 21 principal), and Liz Fitzgerald (Culinary Literacy Center specialist) – took their seats. They would evaluate each dish on taste, appearance/presentation, creativity, and professionalism.
Jablonoski’s team served first. The kids placed plates of buffalo chicken wontons with avocado sauce and scallions, homemade fettuccine with shrimp and scallop marinara sauce and a garlic toast in front of the judges.
“The scallop is cooked nicely; I like the spice,” Ranzy said.
“This tastes like that frozen Texas Toast that’s so delicious, but so bad for you! That’s impressive,” Fitzgerald commented.
The plates were cleared, making way for a Marc’s team’s dish – a cabbage roll with jerk chicken and curried rice and a hunk of Marc’s own special recipe cornbread, pasta salad, and a coconut pineapple smoothie. The students began snacking on leftovers as the judges wrote down their comments.
Norelli’s group served their sliders with gouda, sautéed mushrooms and caramelized onion, kale salad with homemade potato chips, and fresh-made linguini with spicy shrimp sauce.
“This is better than the kale salad I had for lunch today!” Van Anda exclaimed.
Much eating and little cleaning ensued as Benjamin tallied the points. Chef Vetri called everyone together for a few heartfelt ‘thank you’ speeches and, finally, the prize was revealed: gift certificates to Pizzeria Vetri and a free pass on the rest of the clean up.
The six kids on Norelli’s team whooped and threw their hands up when Benjamin announced their victory. “I was confident, but oh it feels good,” slider-master Kevin said.
Chef Vetri left satisfied, the students’ performance was evidence of all they had learned over the semester. They had been listening; the proof is in the pasta.
When Jose Garces and Marc Vetri faced off at the Healthy Futures: A Recipe for Childhood Wellness conference on Monday, they both knew they were in for a tough competition. Plus, the fate of the competition would be in the small hands of five 5th-grade students from IBX Foundation partner schools throughout the Greater Philadelphia area.
After quickly preparing their dishes in front of the panel, the chefs each got a peek at what their competitor had been working on. Marc decided to do something that was decidedly in Jose’s wheelhouse — tilapia fish tacos with cabbage salad — while Jose highlighted seasonal ingredients in his winter squash quesadilla creation.
Marc presented his tacos first and was met with approving nods from the judges. They took thoughtful bites and considered all of the different flavors. One discerning judge said, “I don’t usually like spicy, but this is good.”
When Jose put the plates of quesadillas down in front of the judges, they took a sip of water to cleanse their palates before digging in. From the looks on their faces, it was obvious this dish was another success.
Now it was time for the judges to deliberate and vote. The result? Three hands raised for fish tacos, two for the quesadilla. It was close, but Vetri pulled another victory.
Impressed by Jose’s dish and given how close the votes were, Marc announced he would incorporate the winter squash quesadilla into the already-stellar Eatiquette lunch menu.
“You must be the change you wish to see” – and that’s exactly what the culinary arts students throughout the Philadelphia School District did when they entered their tasty and healthy school lunch creations into Get Healthy Philly’s inaugural Culinary Voice competition last February.
On Thursday, October 16, in honor of National School Lunch Week, the winning dish – a Soul Food Chicken Wrap made by students at A. Phillip Randolph High School — will be offered to more than 59,000 students in the Philadelphia school district and will become part of the menu’s regular rotation. This is the first student-created item to ever do so.
“Both dishes in the competition were creative and delicious,” said Mica Root, Get Healthy Philly Program Associate. “The winning Soul Food Chicken Wrap was also very user-friendly. As one of the students who designed it said, ‘It’s quick, easy, and you can take it on the go.’”
The winning team, whose dish was selected by chefs Kevin Sbraga (Sbraga, The Fat Ham, and the upcoming Juniper Commons), Nathan Lingle (The Ritz-Carlton) and Delilah Winder (with the Enterprise Center’s Center for Culinary Enterprise), also earned a one-night apprenticeship with the chefs at Osteria organized by the Vetri Foundation.
The runner-up dish, Creole Chicken with Rice and Beans made by students at Murrell Dobbins High School, will make a one-time appearance on menus this Friday.
Root said that the special thing about Culinary Voice is that “it brought students’ voices and creativity into debates and work around improving school food.”
Planning for the 2015 Culinary Voice competition is underway. This time around, the focus will be on the creation of appealing new breakfast items. Applications are due on Monday, November 17. The competition will take place Thursday, February 26, 2015 at the Free Library of Philadelphia’s Culinary Literacy Center.
The Franklin Square Foundation, the charitable arm of Franklin Square Capital Partners, announced today that it will partner with the Vetri Foundation, an organization founded by Philadelphia restaurateurs Marc Vetri and Jeff Benjamin that promotes healthy eating in Philadelphia schools. The announcement took place at People for People, a North Philadelphia charter school and Vetri Foundation partner.
Through the announced partnership, Franklin Square will provide the Vetri Foundation annual financial support as well as a commitment of employee volunteer work in support of the Vetri Foundation’s marquee program, “Eatiquette.” The Eatiquette program engages students in healthy, family-style lunches, a significant upgrade over traditional cafeteria experiences.
In addition to the announcement, a group of 17 Franklin Square employees participated in the inaugural Eatiquette / Franklin Square event.
“I was excited to learn about our partnership with Vetri,” said Lauren McNamee, a due diligence analyst at Franklin Square. “Today was a very meaningful experience and I look forward to our continued involvement.”
Franklin Square recently unveiled its Foundation, which includes employee service initiatives and a charitable giving matching program for all employees. “We place great emphasis on civic engagement, as well as healthy eating and lifestyles, for our employees at Franklin Square,” said Chairman and CEO Michael Forman, who serves as chair of the Vetri Foundation board of directors. “This program and the partnership with the Vetri Foundation are natural fits.”
“Michael has provided our board and organization with incredible leadership, helping us reach thousands of Philadelphia children,” said Marc Vetri. “We are thankful for his and Franklin Square’s support.”
For more information about Franklin Square Capital Partners and the Franklin Square Foundation, visit franklinsquare.com.
During our latest Great Chefs Event in June 2014, we asked some of our amazingly talented and passionate Great Chefs what they had to say about the power of food. Check out this video to hear inspiring answers from chefs including Marc Vetri, Jose Garces, April Bloomfield, Suzanne Goin, and Michael Anthony. And now, we want to hear from YOU!
Inspired by this latest video short, we want to hear what YOU have to say about the power of food. Tweet us @VetriFdn, post to our Facebook, give us a call or send us an email at email@example.com! “Food has the power to ____________.” We’ll feature your answers in an upcoming E-blast and on our website! Be sure to hashtag: #PowerOfFood
Frequent Food Network contributor Marc Summers recently donated $2,500 to the Vetri Foundation after a screening of The Hundred-Foot Journey at Prince Music Theater! From Philly Night Out:
“Food Network regular Marc Summers surprised buddy Marc Vetri with a $2,500 donation to the famed Philly chef’s Vetri Foundation after a screening of “The Hundred-Foot Journey” last night at the Prince Music Theater. The screening – about an Indian family who moves to southern France and clashes with a classic chef ( Helen Mirren) – benefited the foundation, which works to teach children how to make healthier eating decisions.”
Marc has long been an ardent supporter of our foundation, and we thank him very much for the donation!
Last month’s Great Chefs Event united chefs from all over the world to raise over $750,000 for the Vetri Foundation and Alex’s Lemonade Stand. While doing so we realized that food, and everything that goes into it, indeed has the power to change the world.
We asked chefs at GCE to finish the sentence “Food has the power to _______.” and their answers were just as inspiring as their dishes. Check it out below.
Cristo Rey High School in Philadelphia, who with the help of the Vetri Foundation implemented the Eatiquette school lunch program in 2012, was highlighted by One Green Planet as one of 10 U.S. High Schools With the Healthiest Foods in a recent article:
“Cristo Rey High School partnered with the Eatiquette program in September 2012. The program focuses on family style eating — sitting down at a table with peers, passing food around the table, and interacting with one another. A chef prepares mostly fresh and unique items and students are encouraged to learn about what they are eating and try new entrees.”
The 2014 Great Chefs Event, held earlier this month at Urban Outfitters HQ in south Philadelphia’s Navy Yard, raised over $750,000 for Alex’s Lemonade Stand and the Vetri Foundation for Children! We’re already looking forward to next year. Thanks to the 1,200 attendees and to the chefs from around the world who lent their time and talent to this wonderful cause.
Last night, the Great Chefs Event took place at Urban Outfitters HQ at the Navy Yard, benefiting the Vetri Foundation for Children and Alex’s Lemonade Stand. More than 1,200 guests attended to raise money and of course, sample food prepared by chefs from all over the country and world.
As it is every year, the Great Chefs Event was a wonderful night filled with great friends, great food and a great cause. We’re already looking forward to next year!
Here are some highlights:
“Chefs from Philadelphia, and as far away as Italy, gathered to feed about 1,200 people last night for charity.
For the ninth year, it was the Great Chefs Event put together by the Vetri Foundation. Chef and board member Jeff Michaud didn’t do any of the cooking himself, but 40 others did, lending a helping hand for an event that has become very popular.
‘It’s pretty awesome to see how it’s grown from the first year to today. Went from raising $25,000-$30,000 to over a million.’” –CBS Philly
“Great Chefs drew 1,200 patrons and 43 chefs. Questlove spun at the after-party, held at Alla Spina.
The live auction alone raised $80,000.
The checkbooks also opened for:
A private Night Market party with Big Gay Ice Cream and Alla Spina sold to two different bidders each for $9,000.
A food trip to Italy with Rocco Whalen, chef Jeff Michaud and Jeff Benjamin sold for $24,000.
A food cruise from Miami sold for $8,000.” –philly.com
“The Great Chefs Event was held at the Navy Yard, at Urban Outfitters headquarters, in South Philadelphia on Tuesday night. Chefs from Philadelphia and across the country – even from Italy – served up delicious bites for the nearly 1,500 people who came out to support the Vetri Foundation‘s annual charity event, which benefits Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation.” –philly.com
“Each year, Vetri selects a who’s who of personal friends and respected chefs to prepare dishes for the attendees, sponsors, and fellow chefs — this year, that totaled more than 1,200 guests. With no underlying theme to the evening, the chefs were allowed creative freedom to prepare what they wanted. That meant a very diverse menu, with small plates ranging from barbacoa tacos to foie gras cotton candy.” –Eater
Right now and through June 15, the three Philadelphia-area Shake Shack locations are serving a carbonara burger. Conceived in collaboration with Marc Vetri, $1 from every burger sold will go directly to the Vetri Foundation for Children. Here’s more on the collaboration:
“Our Culinary Director Mark Rosati and acclaimed Philadelphia chef Marc Vetri have yoked their toques to come up with a pretty epic collaborative burger, which will only be available at the three Philly area Shacks — University City, Center City, and King of Prussia — from June 6-15.
It’s called the Carbonara Burger, and it consists of our 100% all-natural Pat LaFrieda Angus beef patty topped with crispy bacon, pecorino cheese, a sunny-side-up egg, and black pepper ($6.75).
$1 from every Carbonara Burger sold will go to The Vetri Foundation to help further its mission to help children experience healthy living and eating.” –Phoodie
The Philadelphia Free Library’s Culinary Literacy Program has been getting a lot of well-deserved attention! Check out some of the greatest hits below:
“The effort extends to children and teens as well. Chef Marc Vetri’s foundation will teach classes aimed at creating healthy eating habits early in life, while the Careers through Culinary Arts Program will offer vocational training for underserved youth interested in the food industry.” –6abc
“‘This, for me, defines what ought to be happening as we go forward,’ Vetri said. ‘Kids ought to be learning about cooking and learning where things come from, cooking at home and just learning about that so that they understand the relationship between healthy eating and healthy living.'” –Philadelphia Business Journal
“One June 2nd, the Free Library of Philadelphia will debut its new Culinary Literacy Centerand state-of-the-art demonstration kitchen, with the help of two of Philadelphia’s most acclaimed chefs: Jose Garces and Marc Vetri, and ‘as part of the Culinary Literacy Center kickoff, some of the Library’s many culinary literacy partners will host interactive stations that focus on different aspects of cooking and nutrition.'” –Philebrity
“In between chugging olive oil and cracking wise, he [Vetri] imparted knife skills, food-preparation techniques, and a killer panzanella recipe to a crowd that included restaurant workers with limited English, kids finding their way around the kitchen for the first time, and parents and grandparents navigating their families’ nutritional needs.
These are some of the demographics that will be served by the Free Library’s new Culinary Literacy Center, which opened Monday with demonstrations from Vetri and fellow chef Jose Garces.” –Philly.com
“‘I love that the Free Library has added a culinary suite to their beautiful Central Branch – and that they’ve invited community partners in to use the space for education, said Marc Vetri. ‘Getting people cooking healthy, real food opens up so many learning opportunities for them and their families.'” –The Daily Meal
The Free Library of Philadelphia recently launched a culinary literacy program which aims to educate residents on better cooking and healthier eating. Non-Profit Quarterly wrote a great article about how it works and the Vetri Foundation’s involvement:
“The Central Library of the city’s 54-branch system has opened “a sparkling new demonstration kitchen” to house its innovative Culinary Literacy Center, which will incorporate literacy, math, science and problem-solving into cooking and nutrition classes. Among the local residents most likely to benefit from the center’s offerings are students with little to no kitchen experience, grandparents caring for young children, adults enrolled in literacy programs, and restaurant workers who speak only limited English.
The well-appointed Center—located in a fourth-floor space that once housed a cafeteria—was made possible with support from Cancer Treatment Centers of America and with the help of two of Philadelphia’s favorite chefs, Jose Garces and Marc Vetri, and their respective foundations. A veritable stew of other community partners already involved in literacy, nutrition, culinary education and social services programs will be instrumental in developing programs and in engaging the people they serve in the new center’s offerings.”
From June 6-15, the three Philadelphia-area Shake Shack locations—Center City, University City and King Of Prussia—will be selling a new carbonara burger for a limited time. The burger is a collaboration between Marc Vetri and Shake Shack, and for each one sold Shake Shack will donate $1 to the Vetri Foundation for Children!
A launch party for the carbonara burger will be held on June 5 at 5:30 p.m. at the University City Shake Shack location at 3200 Chestnut St. We hope to see you there!
The Vetri Foundation is excited to be collaborating with the new Philadelphia outpost of Impact Hub:
“Impact Hub’s Wingert, a La Salle grad who last year founded the Germantown Hunger Network, has already signed on five organizations to create programming for the space, including the Vetri Foundation, the Food Trust, Philabundance, Share Food Programs and Challah for Hunger. An additional 15 organizations have begun talks to participate. Now all that’s needed are the funds to finish construction.”
Chicago Now recently gave the Great Chefs Event a shoutout:
“The ninth annual Great Chefs Event hosted by James Beard award winner Marc Vetri, restaurateur Jeff Benjamin, and James Beard award winner Jeff Michaud is scheduled for Tuesday, June 10 in Philadelphia. Chicagoans Tony Mantuano and Chris Marchino of Spiaggia, Mindy Segal of Hot Chocolate, and Erling Wu-Bower and Donnie Madia of Nico Osteria will be joining the all-star roster of participating chefs.
The event will benefit Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation and The Vetri Foundation for Children. The first group has raised more than $75 million to fund pediatric cancer research projects, while the second funds programs designed to help kids experience the connection between healthy eating and healthy living.”
Here’s a quick bullet point-style article on the work the Vetri Foundation is doing with My Daughter’s Kitchen, courtesy of Philly.com. It also tells you how you can participate in this wonderful cause and help children all over the Philadelphia area prepare healthy meals.
Philly’s own Questlove will once again DJ the Great Chefs Event After Party at Alla Spina on June 10. The Grammy Award-winning drummer of The Roots and bandleader on The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon, will be spinning tunes all night for After Party Access ticket holders, event sponsors, chefs, and volunteers.
The Eatiquette program is the Vetri Foundation’s initiative to bring healthy, family-style lunches to school cafeterias all over greater Philadelphia. CBS recently wrote about the program’s first entrance into a public school after years at charter schools, at Zeigler Elementary in northeast Philadelphia:
“The famous restaurateur has made inroads at charter schools in recent years, dishing out freshly made, nutritious meals.
Today, he rolled out his initiative for the first time at a Philadelphia public school, Ziegler Elementary.
‘We would like to take this out to the entire school district,’ Vetri said today.
He says his process affects not only what the kids are eating, but how they’re eating it.
‘They’re eating around a round table, which lets them interact with each other a little bit more,’ he explained.”
Much like the Vetri Foundation’s Eatiquette school lunch program, we feel it’s crucial for children to learn basic cooking skills as well, to show them that preparing their own food is not only healthier than eating store-bought and pre-prepared meals, but more fun, too.
My Daughter’s Kitchen, a program headed by Philadelphia Inquirer food editor Maureen Fitzgerald, is now in its third semester. Fitzgerald recently held a meeting prior to the start of the semester at our headquarters, which was attended by enthusiastic volunteers. We can’t wait to see where else this great program leads.
Today on Philly.com, Fitzgerald chronicled a recent class at Henry W. Lawton School in northeast Philadelphia’s Tacony neighborhood. Click the button below to read it.
Main Line Today has highlighted five reasons to attend the 2014 Great Chefs Event:
“Ten years ago, Marc Vetri and Jeff Benjamin met Liz and Jay Scott, who were carrying on the work that their daughter Alex had started, to help find a cure for all kids with cancer with Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. The duo was moved by Alex’s story, and by Liz and Jay’s perseverance, that they continued to support their cause and eventually founded Vetri Foundation for Children in 2008, to give back in the area they know most about— healthy food and nutrition for Philadelphia’s youth. For 2014’s Great Chefs Event, the proceeds will benefit both Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation and Vetri Foundation for Children.” The 2014 Great Chefs Event is on June 10 at Urban Outfitters HQ in Philadelphia’s Navy Yard. Tickets are available here.
We are so excited to partner with the Norristown area school district. The first day of service boasted excited students, engaged teachers and staff, and lots and lots of empty plates! Philly.com featured the launch on March 7, 2014:
“Curried chickpea stew, couscous with raisins, a tossed salad with carrot slices and a tomato-infused vinaigrette. It sounds more like a dinner you’d read off a menu than a lunch served in a middle school cafeteria. But for the students of Eisenhower Science and Leadership Technology Academy, it’s just a regular Thursday lunch.
“On March 6th, the Norristown Area School District launched its partnership with the Vetri Foundation for Children to bring scratch-cooked, family-style lunches to the cafeteria. Once a week, this program, called ‘Eatiquette,’ transforms school lunches into made-from-scratch meals with fresh, locally-sourced produce.
“’The kids are getting a healthier meal, nothing is processed,’ explains Head Chef Cheryl Riccioli. ;It’s labor-intensive for us but we hope it will broaden their horizons and give them an opportunity to try new and healthier foods.’”
Montgomery Media covered the Vetri Foundation’s first Eatiquette lunch at Eisenhower Science and Technology Leadership Academy, part of the Norristown Area School District:
“The light sound of a piano composition by Beethoven played as the smells of chicken curry stew wafted from the kitchen at Eisenhower Science and Technology Leadership Academy in Norristown.Like one big family, students filed into the cafeteria and placed themselves around the tables of eight that were set in advance by the student ‘table captains.’ Once the student and staff servers brought the small feasts to the tables, students unfolded their napkins, placed them on their laps with perfect manners, and shared a gourmet meal.This family-style eating environment will be found in Eisenhower every week through a new partnership between the Norristown Area School District and the Vetri Foundation for Children.
Eisenhower Middle School students participate in the Eatiquette program sponsored by the Vetri Foundation in Noristown March 6. 21st Century Media photo / GENE WALSH
“The first run of the Vetri Foundation’s Eatiquette program took place March 6. The foundation was established by chef Marc Vetri and restaurateur Jeff Benjamin in 2008 to rid schools of the current ‘assembly line’ food programs and bring nutritional meals in a package that teaches students the value of nutritional eating and fosters a healthy sense of community.Vetri, an award-winning chef famous for establishing successful restaurants in downtown Philadelphia, is also the brother of Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman. When Ferman, a board member of the Vetri Foundation, heard that the foundation wanted to bring its program to Montgomery County, she immediately thought of Norristown.
“’I knew Dr. Samuels would be interested in such an innovative program,’ Ferman said, referring to Norristown Area School District Superintendent Janet Samuels. ‘It was such a perfect community. It had to start in Norristown. It’s really special being here in my hometown.’
Ferman was right: Samuels was thrilled to bring the program to Norristown.
“‘It’s so wonderful seeing all the students sitting down together and sharing a meal,’ Samuels said. ‘It’s a great community experience.’
“Christina Taylor, principal at Eisenhower, agreed with Samuels.
“’It’s a wonderful opportunity to help prepare students for life,’ Taylor said.”
Check out Organic Gardening Magazine’s feature on the Vetri Foundation and our work at Cristo Rey Philadelphia High School. VFFC Chef Tia McDonald was challenged to create several recipes using OG Magazine’s test garden vegetables, including heirloom tomatoes and ground cherries. Chef Tia incorporated these interesting and local veggies in to kid friendly items that could be served in the lunchroom or at home!
Sage Roasted Turkey with Ground Cherry Marmalade
Vetri Foundation’s Tia McDonald’s exclusive recipe
2 pounds boneless, skin-on turkey breast
8-10 sage leaves
Salt and pepper to preference
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
Ground Cherry Marmalade (see below)
Preheat the oven to 325° F. Rub the sage leaves, salt, and pepper under the skin of the turkey breast until well coated; then rub the outside of the skin with the oil. Place on a baking sheet, skin side up, and roast for 11/2 to 2 hours or until the internal temperature of the turkey reaches 165° F. Baste occasionally. Remove from the oven and allow to rest at least 15 minutes before slicing. Slice thin and serve with Ground Cherry Marmalade.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the ground cherries with the water. Bring to a boil until the berries begin to burst, about 10 minutes. Add the sugar, chopped limes and zest, shallots, and ginger, and reduce the heat to simmer. Continue to simmer for 45 minutes, or until the mixture begins to thicken. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly. Transfer to a food processor and pulse until well combined.
* Makes 1¾ cups
Photography by Andrea Monzo
Originally published in Organic Gardening magazine, February/March 2014
As part of our partnership with the Independence Blue Cross Foundation’s Healthy Future’s Initiative, the Vetri Foundation’s Eatiquette program has expanded from Philadelphia to its adjacent suburbs. We are thrilled to now count Assumption BVM in West Grove, Pennsylvania as our newest partner school.
The Vetri Foundation has been nominated by David Craig Jewelers to receive a $10,000 Grant from Jewelers for Children … and we need your vote! The top ten most voted for children’s charities will receive a $10,000 grant. Voting is simple! Now through October 30th, visit the Jewelers for Children Facebook page (or click here) to cast your vote for the Vetri Foundation for Children. Only one vote per person is permitted, so please, share this awesome opportunity with friends!
The grant is funded by Jewelers for Children, an organization founded in 1999 by the U.S. jewelry industry with the mission of helping children in need. Since its inception, JFC has donated nearly $43 million to programs benefiting children whose lives have been affected by illness, abuse, or neglect through charity partners such as St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital®, the Make-A-Wish® America, the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, and the National CASA Association. For more information, you can visit the JFC website at www.jewelersforchildren.org.
The Vetri Foundation, along with Mission Kids, was nominated for the grant by David Craig Jewelers of Newtown, PA. “We were pleased to hear about the program,” says David Craig Rotenberg of David Craig Jewelers. “It was such an easy way to help support the excellent work Mission Kids and Vetri Foundation do locally to improve the quality of life for the less fortunate youth of our community. Now, we’re trying to get the word out to the public to vote so Mission Kids and Vetri Foundation receive these generous grants.”
The Vetri Foundation for Children is honored and tremendously excited by the nomination. We hope you will support us on our mission to provide kids with the necessary nutritional foundation to grow and thrive! Thank you for your votes and support.
Yesterday’s Inquirer featured the exciting announcement that 20 area schools will participate in Independence Blue Cross Foundation’s Healthy Futures initiative over the next several years, starting with five this fall. Healthy Futures is IBC’s new, innovative, three-pronged approach to improving child wellness and decreasing obesity among school-aged children in our region. Each partner school will begin a wellness program next month that combines fitness and nutrition at a level of intensity that organizers hope will lead to lasting changes as the children grow into adulthood.
As a Healthy Futures parter, that means that the Vetri Foundation be cooking healthy, family-style meals with five new schools and hundreds of new students across the Greater Philadelphia region – more than doubling Eatiquette’s impact! – this fall. Look for us at the following new schools, along with other Healthy Futures partners (including Greener Partners, the Philadelphia Union, and CHOP):
Global Leadership Academy, West Philadelphia, Philadelphia County
William H. Zeigler Elementary School, Frankford, Philadelphia County
Assumption BVM School, West Grove, Chester County
Park Lane Elementary School, Darby, Delaware County
One additional school to be announced
At the official launch, students from Global Leadership Academy jumped right into the program, having their height and weight taken by CHOP nurses on site. Check out CBS Philly’s video highlights from the event:
New Jersey’s SJ Magazine featured our founder Marc Vetri in their last edition! They focus in on his work through the Foundation:
“Along with success, Vetri will tell you, comes a responsibility to give back. For eight years, Vetri has organized The Annual Great Chefs event, which brings in chefs from around the world to prepare food for guests. This year’s event saw more than 1,200 people cram into Urban Outfitters’ headquarters for some gourmet bites from featured chefs like José Garces and Marco Rossi, who flew in from Bergamo, Italy. The event’s silent auction featured a six-person trip to Italy with Vetri and his business partner, chef Jeff Michaud, which went for $26,000. In all, the evening raised over $1 million for Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation.
Vetri’s own nonprofit, The Vetri Foundation for Children, has taken on the noble task of fighting the childhood obesity epidemic. Its unique program, Eatiquette, has brought healthy foods and the concept of family-style dining to five Philadelphia charter schools.
Students in the program have lunch, served family-style, at round tables so they can pass food and hold conversations with each other. The children take turns serving as the day’s table captain, setting the table beforehand and bringing food to the table. Students use real plates and silverware (not plastic), and before every meal, they hear about the day’s menu from the chef – one with experience working in restaurants, not cafeterias. Sample selections include primavera pasta with a sauce made of roasted and pureed sweet potatoes or baked ziti with a side of roasted fennel salad and, for dessert, cinnamon-apple rice pudding.
“We started the Vetri Foundation to help children understand the connection between healthy eating and healthy living,” Vetri says. “Family-style eating plays an important role in that. They are interacting with each other, laughing. They don’t even realize that they’re eating healthy. Community builds confidence. If they are able to take that into their homes and hold onto that, and then take that into their lives, they’re going to be stronger for it, healthier and more successful. Then they will be the ones who are going to be able to give back.””
As of August 1, 2013 the Vetri Foundation for Children will officially call the Philadelphia Navy Yard home. Please take note of our new address and phone number:
Vetri Foundation for Children
1113 Admiral Peary Way
Philadelphia, PA 19112
We’re very excited about the new waterfront digs, and hope to share the space with some enthusiastic office volunteers! If you have administrative experience and would like to offer your assistance, please fill out our Volunteer Application.
The 2013 Great Chefs Event was a delectable success! Together with our sponsors, chefs, mixologists, sommeliers, brewmasters, and guests, we raised almost $1.1 million for Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation and the Vetri Foundation for Children. Check out some of the artful dishes, sharp outfits, and admirable supporters of this great cause in photos and coverage from the event across town.
“If there is one amazing food event to save your pennies and splurge on, it is The Great Chefs Event, Now in its eighth year, it’s being held on Tuesday, June 11 from 6pm to 9pm at the Philadelphia Navy Yard.”
“The room goes quiet as chef Quintel Coles walks out from the kitchen to tell his customers what’s for lunch. Today, he tells them, they will be dining on a primavera pasta with a sauce made of roasted and pureed sweet potatoes. The shaved vegetable salad is dressed in a strawberry-infused balsamic vinaigrette.”
In the Spirit of Alex Scott program awards people in the Delaware Valley that, through their unique commitment and humanitarian spirit, have made exceptional, overwhelming, and lasting contributions to the community.
Alexandra “Alex” Scott was the Founder of Alex’s Lemonade Stand, raising money for six years for pediatric cancer research by selling lemonade to fight childhood cancer.
Recipients participate in a special on-court award presentation by Sixers Ambassador of Basketball World B. Free and feature in a short video documenting their contributions to the community.
“People For People is one of four schools participating in the “Eatiquette” program, which was designed by local chef Marc Vetri to provide nutritious, low-cost lunches in a setting that reinforces social niceties and communication skills.”
“In 1998, when Marc Vetri opened the doors at his eponymous Italian on Spruce Street in the petite brownstone that was the original home of Le Bec-Fin, Philadelphia was not known as a serious food city.”
“The room goes quiet as chef Quintel Coles walks out from the kitchen to tell his customers what’s for lunch. Today, he tells them, they will be dining on a primavera pasta with a sauce made of roasted and pureed sweet potatoes. The shaved vegetable salad is dressed in a strawberry-infused balsamic vinaigrette.”