First, I hope that you, your family and loved ones are safe and coping as well as possible during these very turbulent times.
After five exciting years, the time has come for me to announce my firm departure date from Vetri Community Partnership. My original plan that was announced in February was to depart this spring. Once the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted our world, the timeline shifted so that I could help the organization navigate through these unchartered waters. With our staff working tirelessly to pivot to virtual platforms and our financial position strong, the time has come for me to move on and my last day will be July 1, 2020.
Leading Vetri Community Partnership has been an incredible journey and I am so proud of everything we have accomplished together. Since joining VCP in October of 2015, we successfully developed and launched three new school- and community-based programs and have provided high-quality nutrition education in over 75 sites, with over 20,000 children and adults participating each year. Our team outgrew our small office in the Navy Yard and flourished into a staff of more than 50 full- and part-timers, each sharing a common passion and love for the work that we do.
I am pleased to announce that the Board of Directors has promoted Maddy Booth, currently VCP’s Education Program Director, to Chief Operating Officer. Additionally, Maddy will serve as the interim CEO until a permanent CEO is hired. Maddy brings an incredible amount of knowledge and passion to this mission and has been instrumental to VCP’s growth. I am confident that she will be a key part of the future leadership team that will take the organization to the next level. The Board of Directors has an active search in place for a permanent CEO, and expects to have the new leader hired sometime this fall.
To the staff and Board—your passion and commitment to our mission is unparalleled and I am so appreciative of each of you. To our donors and volunteers, we could not have accomplished any of this without your support. You have all made VCP the strong and vibrant organization that it is today.
Thank you for the opportunity you gave me to lead Vetri Community Partnership these past five years. I wish you all much success going forward. I know VCP is destined for great things!
Say hello to Tara, a Chef Educator here at VCP who not only teaches in both Vetri Cooking Lab and Culinary Medicine, but also helps with recipe development! To help you get to know her more, we sat down with Tara to ask her a few quick questions as a part of a #VCPeople Q&A.
Q: So Tara, what’s your background outside of your work with VCP ?
I’ve worked in the food biz for 16 years–restaurants, retail, recipe development and television production for the Food Network, writing for local and national publications. I’ve written three cookbooks. I graduated from Villanova University and I have a culinary degree from The Restaurant School in Philadelphia. My husband and I live in Philadelphia with our daughter and twin sons.
Q: So does that mean your experience with food is mainly what draws you to the work of VCP?
To a degree! I love that our work empowers people to use the power and joy of food and cooking in their own lives. Our food philosophy is relatable and approachable, so people don’t feel intimidated about taking what they’ve learned with us and doing it at home for themselves. I love watching kids realizing their own capability in the kitchen and discovering new foods they like (especially when they swore they’d hate it!).
Q: Given this, what are your goals in your goals as an educator?
I aim to hear a kid say something like, “I didn’t think I liked zucchini, but it turns out I do!” or to have a student tell me they used a skill or made a recipe they learned in class at home. If little by little kids and grown ups experience the joy of nutritious food and cooking–in whatever way makes sense for their family, culture, and lives–then we’ll be on track to be a healthier world.
Q: As always, this last one is a thinker! If you were a fruit or vegetable, what would you be and why? Definitely a tomato. It’s versatile, adaptable to change, gets along with lots of other ingredients. You can make something fancy with tomatoes, but they also shine on their own without a lot of extra.
Thanks for taking a moment to get to know Tara, our fantastic Chef Educator at VCP. If you see her around at your school, be sure to stop and say hello!
Meet Taylor, one of our EAT360 Program Coordinators! As an EAT360 Coordinator, Taylor provides nutrition education and hands-on cooking experiences for both K-8 students and their caregivers in our partner schools. This year, worked with Solis-Cohen and Ziegler Elementary Schools. To help you get to know her more, we sat down with Taylor to to ask her a few quick questions as a part of a #VCPeople Series.
If you were a vegetable, what would you be and why?
I would be a sweet potato! I am sweet, versatile, and provide great energy!
What drew you to working for Vetri Community Partnership?
I joined FoodCorps in 2018-2019. While being a service member for FoodCorps, I really loved what we did and knew I wanted to pursue something just like it when I finished. After searching through different organizations, I came across VCP. I connected to the mission and vision, and knew it was the perfect place for me.
What’s an interest that you could go on and on about?
To no surprise, anything revolving around food, how it is made, or food from different cultures… You name it! If it has anything to deal with food, I will go on and on for hours.
Who would you choose (current or historical!) to be your life mentor, and why?
There are so many to choose from! One of my mentors would be Chef Ann Cooper. She is an great advocate of healthy food for all children, and she is a champion of school food reform. Chef Ann is also a graduate from the Culinary Institute of America, where I graduated from! I aspire to be of service for all children, especially those who lack the resources, and be an advocate for them to ensure they get the healthy food they deserve.
What is something that you like to do to keep a positive mindset?
Taking the time for self-care has really made a positive impact on me. A nice charcoal face mask, deep conditioning my hair, and drinking my hazelnut coffee are some self-care things that I love to do!
What was your favorite after school activity growing up?
I was on a step team as a kid. I loved being around my friends who were also a part of the team, and all the different step routines and chants we came up with. I still remember a few moves to this day.
This Saturday night marks what would have been our 3rd Annual Eat to Empower Food Festival and Dinner Series. Eat to Empower is always a special night for us as we are able to bring together hundreds of like-minded individuals, restaurants and companies to raise money to directly benefit our innovative nutrition education that takes place in over 75 sites across the Philadelphia area. While we are not able to see you in person tomorrow, I want you to know we truly value the support that has been given over the past year, especially in these very difficult past 6 weeks.
Up until this pandemic, our programs were designed for in-person, hands-on experiences. In the past year, we had engaged more than 20,000 local residents in learning about nutritious food choices and how to prepare more vegetable forward dishes at home. Due to the continued stay at home orders, our team has been hard at work to ensure that we are able to keep in contact with our communities and offer opportunities for learning at a distance.
We have some exciting initiatives that are about to be launched that I would love to share:
Beginning on Monday, April 27, our educators will be preparing meals for essential workers at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. These meals will be portioned to feed a family of four and will be distributed to medical workers, maintenance staff, and unpaid residents to take home as they end their shifts. Our goal is to provide meals for 60 families twice a week for a total of 480 meals per week. We are so thankful for the PHL COVID-19 Fund for the financial support of this project and the Fitler Club for the generous use of their kitchen for meal prep.
Vetri Cooking Lab is going virtual. Our Education Team has been hard at work transitioning our STEAM-based, out-of-school time program to accommodate our new world of distance learning. Beginning on April 27th, we will begin offering Zoom classes with our partners at Steppingstones Scholars with plans to offer weekly, virtual Vetri Cooking Lab to partner schools in the coming weeks.
Launching soon—Virtual Culinary Medicine. A new elective for 3rd year students at Perelman School of Medicine will run for two weeks starting on May 4th with daily culinary nutrition sessions that support medical topics, lectures, and readings.
Our EAT360 educators are adapting their classrooms to engage students and families through livestream nutrition education sessions. While Philadelphia schools may be suspended, our team continues to connect with school leaders to build innovative opportunities to promote wellness and create sustainable change now, and in the coming months.
Finally, we have been doing our best to keep in touch with our community by offering resources, recipes, and cooking tips to our entire network via our social media Virtual Cooking Club & weekly e-newsletter, The Weekly Dish.
We thank you for your continued support and again are sorry we will not be enjoying Eat to Empower with you tomorrow night. In light of the event’s postponement, I hope you will consider making a contribution to help more people develop the skills necessary to prepare nutritious meals at home.
During this National Volunteer Appreciation Week, we offer a heartfelt THANK YOU to the 150+ volunteers that have donated thousands of hours of time to Vetri Community Partnership over the last year. The passion and joy that you bring to each of our programs has not gone without notice and we appreciate each and every one of you!
The situation concerning COVID-19 continues to evolve rapidly and
as such I have an update for you from the communication you just received from
me this morning.
As of approximately 3pm today, the School District of Philadelphia
announced that beginning Monday, March 16, 2020 through Friday March 27, 2020
all Philadelphia public schools will be closed. The primary reason for
the closure is that School District employees who live in neighboring counties
are being asked not to travel, creating a significant staffing shortage for the
Therefore, ALL Vetri Community Partnership
Programs will not operate during this time frame. This means we will not
have any EAT 360, Mobile Teaching Kitchen, Vetri Cooking Lab
or Culinary Medicine programs running anywhere, including in New Jersey or in
charter or independent schools or clubs or community centers. This hiatus is in
effect from Monday, March 16- Friday, March 27, 2020.
Additionally, we have asked all staff to work from home starting on Monday March 16- Friday March 27 out of an abundance of caution.
We will determine when, and if, our programs commence again and
will be in touch prior to March 27th.
Challenging times but this team will rise to the occasion.
Thank you again for your support.
Wishing you and yours a safe and relaxing weekend.
To all Vetri Community Partnership Stakeholders, Donors and Partners:
I wanted to update you on Vetri Community Partnership’s (VCP) preparation and plan regarding the COVID-19 situation. As you are all well aware, the Coronavirus is presenting the world and our region with a rare public health challenge. We are monitoring the situation carefully and are keeping close tabs on the CDC, the School District of Philadelphia and the City of Philadelphia directives.
Our first priority is the well-being and safety of our staff. They are aware of and are following all of the protocols concerning self-care including hand washing, social distancing etc. We have a Business Continuity Plan in place and all full-time staff have the ability to work from home if need be.
As a community-based organization however, most of our work takes place in schools and other community-based locations such as farmer’s markets and clubs. We are committed to doing our part to help mitigate the problem, while protecting the health of all of our stakeholders.
Effective as of today: 1- We will be postponing our Eat to Empower Dinner Series and Food Festival that was scheduled for April 25. We expect to announce a new fall date for these exciting events shortly.
2- The Mobile Teaching Kitchen will not participate in any visits out in the community where crowds of over 25 people are expected. This moratorium is in effect until March 27th and will be re-evaluated at that time.
3- EAT 360 and Vetri Cooking Lab programs will continue to run in schools that are open, taking direction from the School District of Philadelphia or relevant Charter network. As of today, 63 Philadelphia schools have closed and we have programs in 8 of them. We expect school closings to escalate and will continue to monitor the situation and react accordingly.
4- Culinary Medicine workshops will continue if participation is under 25 people per session.
5- VCP’s office at 211 N. 13th Street will remain open until further notice. We are confident that all employees are following the appropriate protocols that we have put in place.
It is an understatement to say that these are challenging times. I want to thank all of you for your support of Vetri Community Partnership. We could not do this work without you and are grateful to have you by our side during this very difficult time for our country.
The situation is constantly evolving, and I will update you as necessary. Again, we appreciate you and your support.
Twice a year, we announce that it’s time to launch another semester of Vetri Cooking Lab. We post pictures of our educator training and wish them and their students well as they embark on their 10-week culinary and nutrition education experience. But what one might not realize is that months of preparation go into getting ready for this exact moment. In fact, the process of launching a Vetri Cooking Lab starts approximately three months before the semester begins.
Using a previous semester’s recipe book as a base, program staff take a look at the big picture to consider what recipes worked well previously and which ones need to be updated. Things that could necessitate an update include improving flavor, easing of preparation in our classrooms, diversifying the types of recipes we make, better demonstrating STEAM concepts, and more. After identifying the recipes we want to update, program staff take time during the next several weeks to research, test, and retest new recipes until they have created dishes which are not only nutritious, but also full of flavor and able to provide enough jobs for 10-15 students to make together in our culinary classrooms.
At the same time, we begin mapping out the logistics of launching classes at over 35 sites across the region. One of the first tasks includes coordinating with our contacts at each of our sites to confirm dates and times for the new semester. While many of our educators return each semester, new applicants are interviewed and hired each season to ensure all sites are staffed. Beyond this, volunteers need to be recruited to assist the educators in their classes. Once all educators and volunteers have been brought on board, program staff must work with their individual schedules and transportation needs to assign them to an appropriate class time and location.
Another major task to be completed includes the preparation of our curriculum handbooks for our educators. Like the recipe books, program staff use a previous curriculum as a base upon which to build, and edit it to align with the recipes on deck for the coming semester. Curriculum content is also updated to make sure it’s up-to-date and relevant to students’ lives, interests, and learning styles. Lessons include informational content, educational games, and hands-on activities to help students learn things like proper measurement and knife skills, how to navigate nutrition labels, and how to think critically about where food comes from, what’s inside of it, and the decisions we make daily around food.
As educator training draws closer, many tasks still need to be accomplished. Recipe books and curriculum binders need to be printed. Spices need to be purchased, measured into individual bags, and packed into kits. Student aprons, dish towels, and other program supplies have to be ordered. All of these items and more then need to be counted, sorted, and placed into bags for educators to take to their sites.
After the months of recipe development, curriculum writing, logistics planning and staff hiring, the time for launch finally comes. On the day of training, over twenty educators come to the VCP office to learn about classroom management and instructional techniques, as well as to practice the recipes and run through lesson content. Once the day has finished, they grab their teaching kits that have been months in the making and head off, well prepared to lead their students through another successful semester.
So the next time you see the announcement that we’re launching Vetri Cooking Lab, know that it is more than just those pictures and that moment. It is the culmination of months of hard work and preparation to ensure we deliver thoughtful, relevant programming that not only inspires youth to cook and learn about nutritious foods, but also to have fun doing it.
Vetri Cooking Lab is made possible by support from GSK.
Say hello to Jaimie Field, the newest member of our Board of Directors! To help you get to know her more, we sat down with Jaimie to ask her a few quick questions as a part of a #VCPeople Q&A.
Q: So Jaimie, what do you do outside of your work with VCP? What is your background?
Currently, I am the Director of Sustainability at Entercom and also serve on the Board of Trustees at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I’ve always been very interested in art. In fact, I was an Art History major at Brown. To this day, I still love going to museums and am an avid collector. Otherwise, I also love being outdoors – hiking, biking, and even skiing and cross country in the winter. When I’m not outside, I enjoy cooking, reading, and playing games with my family.
Q: That’s so interesting! So is your love of cooking what attracted you to being on VCP’s Board?
In part, yes. I’m drawn to the work of VCP because I care deeply about the issue of children and families eating healthy. I think it’s so important that children learn how to cook and feel comfortable in the kitchen when they’re young so they can develop good nutritional habits that they can continue throughout their life. The medical costs of not doing this for both the individual and society are huge. My goal in joining the board is to help VCP have a greater impact in showing people how easy it can be to make nutritious meals at home with ingredients they have available to them.
Q: Alright, this is just a quick chat, so this is the last question. It’s a traditional one, but it is somewhat difficult – if you were a fruit or vegetable, what would you be and why?
I guess I’d say a coconut. First, because it’s high up in a tree so it gets to see the sky and have nice views of nature, versus being a root vegetable and being stuck underground. Plus, I would get to live in a nice climate in the tropics, and I’m thinking with that hard shell I probably wouldn’t get eaten by bugs!
Say hello to Jie, one of our seven EAT360 Program Coordinators and also one of our newest staff members here at VCP!
To help you get to know him on a more personal level, we sat down with Jie to ask him a few questions as a part of a #VCPeople Q&A.
What did you do before VCP / what’s your background?
So I graduated from Rutgers New Brunswick with a major in Neuropsychology and have worked in the non-profit sector for the past 5-6 years. My initial focus was working with mental health, substance use, and homeless populations in Atlantic and Cape May County, New Jersey. Then I was promoted to a coordinator position where I had the honor of working with Holocaust survivors and their families and with case management for senior citizens.
What drew you to Vetri Community Partnership?
My parents owned a restaurant, so I’ve been in that business all of my life. Food has always been a big part of our family and I’ve always loved to cook for my friends/family/strangers. Moving to Philadelphia, I came to Vetri Community Partnership to mix my passion for helping others with my love for food!
What do you hope to accomplish as an EAT360 Program Coordinator?
Working in my school communities, I hope to help inspire children and adults to try more of the wonderful cuisines and flavors from around the world while also working to mitigate stigma about healthy food. I hope to do this by encouraging community members to be confident and open when trying unfamiliar recipes that are both delicious and nutritious!
If you were a fruit or vegetable which would you be and why?
I think I’d be a carabao mango! It grows best in tropical weather on an island close to volcanoes and it’s quite sweet!
If you see Jie around at your school, be sure to stop and say hello!
We recently hosted the first session of our new volunteer ambassador program called Food For Thought! This meeting provided current volunteers with in-depth insight into our programs, then concluded with the group preparing a potential new program recipe – veggie sushi.
One of the goals of the Food For Thought program is to provide active volunteers with an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of Vetri Community Partnership’s (VCP) programming, including the inner-workings of our program layouts and reach. As volunteers become better able to conceptualize VCP’s philosophies and initiatives across programs, the aim is to prepare them for opportunities to join VCP staff at community engagement events such as health & wellness or recruitment fairs, or even to assist in facilitating volunteer orientations.
According to Community Engagement Coordinator, Ridhdhi Parmar, “Even longtime volunteers really seemed to learn a lot at the session! There were a lot of ‘aha’ moments in regards to learning about our history and program evolution, as well as the general build-out of curriculum and content.”
When looking back on the session, volunteer Linda Canataro reflected on her own ‘aha’ moment, “Last night I thought that the sushi rolling would benefit more of the older children. I now recall that when our class made burritos, I was surprised at how well some of the 4-5th graders made them. It is an activity for everyone!”
Food For Thought is also intended to create a space for volunteers to be able to meet their peers to share both their experiences with VCP, as well as with life in general.
From what she could see while leading the session, Parmar believes it did just that, “It was wonderful to see them sharing and comparing their experiences as volunteers. This also led to folks to chat about their own personal backgrounds and lives and it was amazing to witness personal connections being made in a fun space!”
For more information about the Food For Thought program, including the upcoming session on Dec. 11, please reach out to email@example.com.
Say hello to Shoshanna, one of our fantastic Mobile Teaching Kitchen Educators! In this role, she helps bring the culinary classroom curbside in the communities that we serve. The kitchen itself is a modified food truck carrying everything needed for pop-up cooking classes and demonstrations at schools, community events, farmers markets and more.
Visits typically take place in partnership with local food access partners who bring fresh and affordable produce markets to communities in need. Shoshanna and all of our other MTK Educators feature ingredients that are available at the market that day, bridging the final gap to more nutritious eating by showing how delicious and approachable making from-scratch dishes at home can be.
To help you get to know more about Shoshanna, we sat down to ask her a few questions as a part of a #VCPeople Q&A:
Q: So what do you do outside of your work as an MTK Educator?
Shoshanna: My background is photojournalism, which I use to document weddings and other events. Lately, I volunteer photography for After School Activity Partnership and plan weddings with Jeffrey Miller Catering. I’m also serving on the board of Photography Without Borders, which teaches middle school and high school students in North Philly!
Q: Wow, that sounds so interesting! And pretty different from your role as an MTK Educator, too. What is it that drew you to your role with VCP?
Shoshanna: Well I have been passionate about a plant-centered diet since reading Diet For A Small Planet at age 14. My sister-in-law teaches at Community Partnership School where VCP once administered the old Eatiquette program. Years later, I connected the dots and learned that MTK needed educators and thought it would be a great way to engage in another one of my passions!
Q: What has your favorite part of being an MTK Educator been thus far?
Shoshanna: With MTK, I love visiting communities in neighborhoods of my city that I have not been to before and getting to know them better. It’s always encouraging to experience people developing new relationships with vegetables, too. People are often pleasantly surprised by how delicious they can be!
Q: Last question – if you were a fruit or a veggie what would you be and why?
Shoshanna: I’d probably say grapes. They’re sweet and fun to eat, plus a full bunch has a sense of abundance.
If you see Shoshanna with the Mobile Teaching Kitchen in your neighborhood, be sure to stop, take a tasty sample, and say hello!
Say hello to Kendra, one of our over twenty part-time Educators with the Vetri Cooking Lab program! In this role, she works with a class of fifteen 4th through 8th graders once a week after school for ten weeks. Together she and her students use the kitchen as a classroom to combine cooking, nutrition education, and science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM) core concepts to help them become more educated food consumers. The Vetri Cooking Lab program is possible with support from GSK.
To help you get to know Kendra on a more personal level, we sat down to ask her a few questions as a part of a #VCPeople Q&A:
Q: So what do you do outside of your work with VCP, Kendra?
Kendra: By day, I work for the School District of Philadelphia as a Climate and Culture Coach. Simply put, I work with principals, staff, and students to build a supportive learning environment that promotes academic and behavioral growth and achievement, with the aim of making a school a healthy and effective space for learning. I like to believe I bring a lot of this approach to my cooking lab. It is my goal to make sure the “Little Chefs” know this space is safe and supportive to learn, grow, make mistakes and expand their knowledge around food, nutrition, and cooking.
Q: So is this background in education what drew you to VCP and the role of Vetri Cooking Lab Educator?
Kendra: I consider finding this role happenstance. In all honesty, I never thought I wanted to be a teacher/educator. I ran away from the role. Everyone in my family is a teacher and I thought I didn’t have the educator calling! But I knew cooking was always a passion and I wanted an opportunity that felt fulfilling, but didn’t feel like a job. Something impactful and meaningful, yet fun and challenging.
Then I found VCP and it felt like I found the golden ticket! It was flexible for my schedule, comprehensive, thorough, engaging, and the staff is amazing, diverse, passionate, knowledgeable and kind. The curriculum was comprehensive and thorough – something I could fully get behind and support. I instantly became a fan of VCP! They truly care about the “whole” educator, and choose to nurture their people in such a way that compels you to want to support their mission, vision and values.
Q: Given all this, what has your favorite part of being VCL Educator been thus far?
Kendra: Being a VCL Educator has been beautifully challenging! Keeping young learners engaged is always a task. But the thing is, they keep me on my toes and challenge me in a way that refines my teaching. They make me think in a new way. I love seeing their palates and vocabulary mature. It’s definitely a feel good moment.
Q: Alright last question – if you were a fruit or a veggie what would you be and why?
Kendra: Hmm, if I were a fruit, it would be a pineapple: unique and fun, sweet and refreshing. I pair well with both savory and sweet, but can stand on my own!
If you see Kendra around at your school, be sure to stop and say hello!
After a long summer of writing curriculum, organizing materials, and preparing educators to lead sessions, we are all set to launch Vetri Cooking Lab, EAT360, and Culinary Medicine for the 2019-2020 school year.
According to Celia Mason, Vetri Cooking Lab (VCL) Program Manager, “It’s such an exciting time of year. VCL is launching at 37 sites (seven of which are new) and training a team of 25 Educators (over a dozen of which are new)!”
Thanks to renewed support from GSK, this 10-week culinary and nutrition education program which highlights STEAM (science, tech, engineering, arts, and science) core concepts will be able to reach more youth than ever before. Some of the new sites include: Edward Steel School in Hunting Park, Forrest Elementary in Tacony, and KIPP Lanning Square in Camden, NJ.
After a successful 2018-2019 school year, EAT360, our SNAP-Ed funded program, is also experiencing growth this year by partnering with two new sites: Chester A. Arthur School in Graduate Hospital and Universal Alcorn Charter in Grays Ferry.
“We’re really looking forward to the new year with all of our schools! Our nutrition educators can’t wait to start their in-school time classes for students, after-school community ed sessions for adults, and to begin their efforts to support a culture of wellness in their school communities,” said Mary Bullock, EAT360 Program Director.
Working not just in schools, but also in healthcare settings, VCP is now in its second year of offering culinary and nutrition education classes for fourth-year medical students at Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine.
The students have found this course in Culinary Medicine incredibly valuable in helping to prepare them to coach their future patients in nutritious cooking. According to med student Krystal Hill, “This course helped me realize that as a doctor I can empower my patients to reach their health goals by teaching them about healthy, delicious cooking techniques.”
As all of these programs begin to ramp up, Mobile Teaching Kitchen workshops, demonstrations, and tastings at various sites in our region remain steady. Even as the weather gets colder, the truck will continue programming throughout the fall and winter seasons.
Say hello to Erika, our new Vetri Cooking Lab Coordinator and one of our newest staff members here at VCP! In this brand new role, she will be helping to grow and manage the Vetri Cooking Lab program, especially through site coordination and logistics.
To help you get to know her on a more personal level, we sat down with Erika to ask her a few questions as a part of a #VCPeople Q&A:
Q: So what did you do before you came to Vetri Community Partnership, Erika?
Erika: Well right now I’m a Registered Dietician to-be going to school part-time at Rutgers. Beyond that, my background is in Nutrition & Dietetics. I’ve worked with youth all my life and had various experiences with other nutrition-related nonprofits during my college career.
Q: Given it seems like you’ve had lots of experiences with other non-profits, what specifically draws you to the work of VCP?
Erika: My passions in life are people (especially youth), wellness promotion, food and nutrition, science, and the local Philadelphia community. So when I found VCP it was like finding the intersection of all the things in life that I love! How could you beat that?
Q: It sounds like you’re excited to be in this role! What do you hope to accomplish in your work here at VCP?
Erika: My main goal is to help even more of our neighbors get the opportunity to fall in love with food and cooking like I have! I think VCP has made an incredible impact, but there is always room for more growth. I hope to be able to get creative with new ways to see our mission continue to blossom!
Q: So other than exploring your love of food and cooking, what do you like to do in your free time?
Erika: I’m usually pretty busy with school and work, but other than that I love yoga and spinning, spending time with my daughter and my friends, trying new local food spots, and rooting for the Eagles!
Q: Alright we just have one final question – if you were a fruit or a veggie what would you be and why?
Erika: Oh, wow! Let’s see, if I were a vegetable I’d be Brussels sprouts. I’m not sure why, maybe just because I’m craving them right now, ha! And if I were a fruit, I’d be… A PINEAPPLE! Mostly because their leaves remind me of my crazy hair.
If you see Erika around at one of your schools, be sure to stop and say hello!
On the beautiful evening of Saturday April 27th, Vetri Community Partnership held our 2nd Annual Eat to Empower Dinner Series and Food Festival.
The Eat to Empower Dinner Series included a group of six invitation-only dinners that were held in private locations throughout the city. Here we were honored to have some of the nation’s best chefs join us to partner with a selection of Philadelphia’s finest chefs to prepare a fantastic meal for each of the hosts and their guests.
That same evening at Cherry Street Pier, over 450 Eat to Empower Food Festival guests came hungry and ready to enjoy a sampling of Philly’s most popular local restaurants and beverage companies. The beautiful views, weather, raffles, auctions, music and much more all added to the appeal of the evening!
Before the night was over, guests at both the Dinner Series and the Food Festival helped to raise over $300,000 to support our culinary and nutrition education programs.
Our Mobile Teaching Kitchen has had quite a busy year! One of the most exciting additions includes the purchasing of another vehicle, adding to our fleet of now three. This new Mobile Teaching Kitchen “Mini” is a smaller version of our current trucks, which allows us to more efficiently reach our program partners to deliver indoor programming such as workshops and demos without all of the bulk of the full sized trucks.
With the help of all three of our trucks, MTK made over 250 visits between September and May, delivering over 1,800 hours of nutrition education to over 10,000 participants throughout the Philly and Camden region. Doing this was a tremendous team effort which required all hands on deck and the addition of one new full-time and three new part-time MTK staff members, as well as the help of our many volunteers.
This Summer we have over 100 more visits scheduled where we hope to help inspire a love of food and cooking within children and adults across Philadelphia and Camden. Look for #VetriOnWheels on our social media, especially on MTK Monday, to see where the truck will be next!
Vetri Cooking Lab had a year of tremendous growth, expanding from 23 cooking lab sites each semester to 32 this year! This expansion also included the addition of brand new audiences.
Of note is our new partnership with the Achieving Independence Center (AIC) in North Philly – here we host VCL for youth ages 15-20 within the foster care system that will soon be living on their own. This is exciting because the youth are building life skills, confidence in the kitchen, and knowledge that will help them make informed decisions around purchasing, cooking, and eating food!
We also launched programming at our first high school – Liguori Academy in Kensington. This expansion has allowed us to dive deeper into our conversations around food and expand our recipes to challenge an older audience which has more agency over their food decisions.
“I like getting to learn more about cooking because my New Year’s Resolution was to learn how to do it on my own. I’m also happy that it was healthy foods because it taught me that not everything has to be loaded with sugar for me to like it.” -Jay, 11th Grader at AIC
In honor of Black History Month, we are highlighting one of the courses offered by our EAT360 program, A Taste of African Heritage! Through this course created by Oldways, adult community members learn to cook and celebrate the healthy and delicious food traditions of the African Diaspora with hands-on culinary classes.
A Taste of African Heritage (ATOAH) is more than just a series of cooking classes. It is a new kind of wellness program designed to reconnect participants with vibrant ways of eating and living that once promoted the health of African American ancestors everywhere. Not only does it introduce participants to the rich cultural history of African heritage foods, but also it provides them the tools they need to adopt this traditional way of eating for better health in modern day life.
Our EAT360 Program Coordinators offer this program at partner schools year-round during after school-hours. Childcare is provided. Like us on Facebook to stay up to date on the next ATOAH course offerings.
The Rite Aid Foundation has awarded a $25,000 KidCents Regional Grant to Vetri Community Partnership for the My Daughter’s Kitchen program.
The new KidCents Regional Grant Program, which provides grants of $15,000-$30,000, significantly expands the reach of KidCents by funding specific out-of-school-time programs focused on children’s nutrition, physical fitness and academic success. The KidCents program also annually supports a select group of more than 400 nonprofit, kid-focused organizations committed to improving the health and wellbeing of children living in the communities Rite Aid serves and national organizations focused on critical children’s issues, including The Fred Rogers Company, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and Folds of Honor.
“We created the KidCents program to ensure that kids have a chance for better lives and brighter futures,” said Tracy Henderson, director of The Rite Aid Foundation and charitable giving initiatives. “With the introduction of the KidCents Regional Grant program, we are expanding our efforts even more while filling a need for valuable out-of-school-time programming. In addition, we are enabling our partner nonprofit organizations to implement innovative, ground-breaking programs that advance children’s health and wellbeing and promote academic growth.”
KidCents Regional Grants support nonprofit organizations with programs that serve children, from newborn to 18 years of age, and improve the quality of life in Rite Aid communities. The grants support three of KidCents’ primary focus areas for improving the health and wellbeing of children: healthy eating, active living and education. To be considered, programs and projects were required to take place during out-of-school-time. Priority was given to programs supporting communities in need.
The inaugural cycle of grants launched in May 2018 and was available in select counties in the following states: California, Delaware, Maryland, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington. Another cycle of KidCents Regional Grants will launch later this year. To learn more about the program visit riteaid.com/grants.
Vetri Community Partnership is excited to announce our new Vetri Cooking Lab Program Manager, Celia Mason! Celia first joined Vetri Community Partnership in October of 2017 as a Vetri Cooking Lab educator. She quickly fell in love with VCP’s mission and joined as the Education Program Coordinator in March 2018 before assuming her current role as Program Manager.
Prior to her time at VCP, Celia received her degree in Environmental Studies from Temple University, with a minor in Spanish. She graduated in 2014 and moved to Austin, where she taught yoga, meditation and mindfulness to children of all ages. From there, she moved to Costa Rica to work as a program assistant for the Center for Sustainable Development Studies, where she helped coordinate between students, professors, local communities, farmers and organizations around environmental and social issues in the country.
After these adventures, Celia returned to Philadelphia in 2017. She was thrilled to stumble upon Vetri Community Partnership, which she felt married her interests in fair and sustainable food systems, community development, childhood education and wellness.
First starting as a part-time VCL educator, she taught 4th-8th grader students at both Science Leadership Academy – Middle School and St. Malachy School. One of her favorite parts of this role was seeing student’s have “light bulb moments” throughout the semester as new concepts, skills, and ideas would click for them in classes.
Celia could also identify with students’ challenges in approaching a new way of eating in Vetri Cooking Lab, as she herself had had to rethink her eating a few years prior when she was diagnosed with celiac disease (gluten intolerance). Given this diagnosis, she had to become very mindful about everything she ate and drank in order to protect her health. With this empathy in hand, Celia feels she is better able to help students become more mindful of their eating habits, one small step at a time.
Now in her role as Program Manager, Celia is thrilled to utilize her experience in hands-on education to help guide and grow the program in its coming years. When asked what excites her most about this new position, she says it is “Being able to lead a team of educators who are sharing real life skills and a love of nutritious food with Philly youth!”
Outside of her time working with VCP, Celia likes to stay busy, with some of her favorite hobbies beings traveling, exploring the outdoors, cooking, reading, and playing on her yoga mat!
EAT360 will be focusing on providing Direct Nutrition Education Classes in the classroom, as well as Fresh Food Tastings in the lunchroom this school year. In addition to those two aspects of the program, our EAT360 team will be implementing Caregiver Nutrition/Culinary Classes to the communities and families of our partner schools – this will encompass cooking demos and tastings through the ‘Just Say Yes’ Snap-Ed initiative, as well as interactive culinary classes honing in on African heritage and culture. Upcoming programming and volunteer opportunities are listed below.
November 1st and 15th: ‘A Taste of African Heritage’ caregiver nutrition/culinary class. November 1st will be taking place at Bethune School. There are two classes on November 15th; Wissahickon Awbury and ICS West.
Student nutrition/culinary classrooms: November will have classes continuing and starting at Ziegler, Loesche, St. James, Wissahickon Awbury, ICS West, and MSA. December classes will be at Bethune, Cristo Rey, and GLA SW.
November 29th and 30th: Our EAT360 team needs help de-identifying over 500 surveys from our partner schools and matching them with student ID numbers. If you are a volunteer interested in administrative statistical work, please reach out to Ridhdhi Parmar at firstname.lastname@example.org
Mobile Teaching Kitchen
Patrick Shafer & Mallika Kodavatiganti engaging with community members at the Hunting Park Farmer’s Market
As winter approaches, the Mobile Teaching Kitchen (MTK) is closing out our Farmer’s Market season at the end of November. But we still have a few more visits scheduled for Hunting Park (Saturdays) and Fairmount Park (Thursdays), so there is still time to sign up and volunteer with us!
Just because the farmer’s market season is ending, does not slow our MTK team down – the Mobile Teaching Kitchen is still on the GO! Our program runs all year round, and we would love to have our amazing volunteers continue to come out on the truck with us.
Volunteer Highlight: Mallika Kodavatiganti is a passionate, friendly and dedicated volunteer who has helped out on the Mobile Teaching Kitchen at Hunting Park for a number of visits throughout the month of October. Mallika comes to us from Drexel University, through Drexel’s Lindy Center for Civic Engagement. Here’s Mallika in action cooking up tasty samples of Roasted Beets with Squash Ribbons and Greens and chatting with folks visiting the market!
My Daughter’s Kitchen
Syliani Ortiz & Gobby Rodriguez from Bayard Taylor School showcasing the plethora of colorful vegetables they worked with.
My Daughter’s Kitchen’s Fall 2018 semester successfully launched in early October with 35 sites under its wings, and will be approaching its 6th week. With a handful of new partner sites, we have been able to launch wonderful partnerships within Philadelphia & Camden. So far, this semester has been filled with food revelations, teamwork, and photos of tasty meals! Our participants are practicing their knife skills, learning about the nutritional content of the ingredients they are working with, as well as providing thoughtful feedback on the recipes they are building.
At the end of each MDK class, each site’s participants and volunteers sit down to taste the delicious meal they all created together. This culminating aspect of the program allows for our participants to create a positive rapport with each other, as well as the dedicated volunteers that they see each week. Here’s to another inspiring few weeks of My Daughter’s Kitchen!
Vetri Cooking Lab
Vetri Cooking Lab (VCL) is halfway through its third year of programming at 31 sites in Philadelphia and Camden. Eboni Killing, an intern from Temple’s College of Public Health volunteers at two of our VCL sites this semester. Based off of her experience, Eboni informed us on her experience with VCP so far.
Why did you choose to intern for VCP?My internship coordinator informed me that we had a student here during the summer and she spoke highly of her experience here. I was simply telling my internship coordinator my interest and that I want to start learning more about nutrition but I wanted to be more involved. She pointed me in the Vetri Community way and I have not looked back since.
How is this internship preparing you for when you graduate?This internship is giving me a taste of what it could be like if I was to start a career in nutrition education. I do not know what I want to focus on but being with Vetri Community Partnership is giving me real life experiences and connections that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. I enjoy what I do, from seeing the administrative side of the organization in the office every morning to helping facilitate children in an after-school setting.
What do you love about Vetri Cooking Lab and St. Malachy?The thing I love most about VCL and St. Malachy (besides my students) are the recipes and the educator. The educator has so much patience and is very good with the kids. I also love how fresh and different each recipe is. The students are not the only ones learning every week.
Matching Gifts to Vetri Community Partnership
Susan was introduced to the great work that Vetri Community Partnership does through the weekly My Daughter’s Kitchen articles in The Inquirer. She was thrilled to see that Chef Marc Vetri and Jeff Benjamin created an organization that supported the children and families of Philadelphia. Our mission of empowering children and families to lead healthy lives through fresh-food, hands-on experiences and education closely aligns with Susan’s view that empowering children is a key to social change. She also supports the tactic that our programs teach important life/ culinary skills and concepts; using math, science and other disciplines in a natural way. Each child has the opportunity to shine and build confidence in their own way. As many of our volunteers and educators state, it’s so amazing to have children discover that they like a food that they were once wary of, and can then turn around and influence the rest of their family.
The company works for truly believes that corporate citizenship starts with their employees. They practice Human Social Responsibility, which means that they take their lead from their team-members in their corporate philanthropy efforts. One such way that they support these efforts is to match their employee’s financial gifts to their preferred nonprofit, up to $250. Susan has been a faithful donor to Vetri Community Partnership since 2014, and in 2017, she was able to have them match her yearly donation to VCP. She is looking forward to doubling her donation this year as she prepares her year-end donation for 2018.
This year, Vetri Community Partnership has partnered with Double your Donation to make your financial impact go so much further. Many companies offer matching gift programs to encourage employees to contribute to charitable organizations, many will match contributions dollar for dollar, and some will even double or triple the amount of your gift! To check if your company will match your contribution click here.
Volunteer Highlight – Celeste and Craig
On a beautiful fall day that felt more like a breezy summer afternoon, Celeste Fiordimondo and Craig McCann volunteer with Vetri Community Partnership’s Vetri Cooking Lab (VCL). They arrive every Thursday afternoon at 3:15 to support Tamyah Brice, a VCL Educator with Vetri Community Partnership. For 10 weeks this fall, Celeste and Craig will work with 15 students at Chester A. Arthur School, at 20th and Catherine Streets as a part of Vetri Cooking Lab. VCL is an out-of-school time program that combines cooking, nutrition education and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) core concepts. Over a 10 week period, students learn these concepts through recipes and lessons geared towards learning important nutrition lessons like Food Access & Convenience Stores, which was this week’s lesson. The recipes for this week were Broccoli Salad and Pasta e Ceci. Upon arriving to the classroom, Tamyah, Craig and Celeste get to work rinsing the fresh vegetables and setting up stations for the students. While set up is happening, they talk about what recipes they each made the past week and what worked and what didn’t – their own recipe swap of sorts.
Both Celeste and Craig came to VCP just this past summer to start volunteering. They are both in different times of their lives. Celeste was newly retired and wanted to continue with a structured day and wanted to volunteer and work with children. Craig left his engineering career behind to return to school to become a secondary school math teacher. Both Craig and Celeste feel that the most rewarding part of their experience is watching the students grow each week. The students are building life skills as they learn how to handle and use a knife correctly. They both get excited when students try something that they say they never liked, but then leave the class with a new appreciation for that ingredient. The kids are SO proud at the end of class when they present the finished recipe. The smell of whatever they are making fills the hallway of the first floor. The smell often pulls the Principal, Mr. Hunter & After school lead Ms. Dee into the classroom for a little “quality control tasting”. When Mr. Hunter or Ms. Dee come in, the students demonstrate their skills and talk through the ingredients as they are building the recipes. There is such an immense sense of pride on both Celeste and Craig’s faces. Ms. Dee admits that she uses the recipes on a regular basis. Her friends think that she is now a good cook. At the end of the day, Celeste and Craig feel as if they are making a difference in the lives of the families of the children that they work with as well as many other members of the Chester A. Arthur School community.
Thank you to Celeste, Craig and all of the 100+ volunteers that work with Vetri Community Partnership on a regular basis. Without your time and your talent, we could not provide high quality programs to the many communities in Philadelphia and its surrounding areas.
If you are interested in joining us as a volunteer, we have several different opportunities that may suit your schedule! Click here to find out more.
Our Mobile Teaching Kitchen brings hands-on cooking demonstrations to schools, farmers markets, community events, and now — grocery stores! For the past couple months, our chef educators have been bringing our cooking demos into the produce aisle at PriceRite in Camden, NJ. We spoke to Bob Baylor of Ravitz Family Markets to discuss our growing partnership.
How did this partnership come about?
Leadership at the Ravitz Family Markets, the Family Foundation, and Vetri Community Partnership had a meeting to discuss the many ways we can help bring fresh foods to areas that don’t always have the best access to them. After sharing their many experiences, the idea of bringing the Mobile Teaching Kitchen program to the PriceRite of Camden seemed like a great idea.
What is it like to have the cooking demonstrations at PriceRite?
To be able to share with our customers product knowledge that goes beyond simple display merchandising is quite an opportunity for all of us. Our customers enjoy learning about the fresh fruits and vegetables, but taking it a step further by actually demonstrating the food prep steps is another level that they really appreciate of.
What have you heard from customers about the demonstrations?
The customers really appreciate the Mobile Teaching Kitchen coming into their community. It is another way for the customer to learn more about preparing fresh and healthy foods. The demonstrations also give the customer a chance to taste a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables that they might never have tasted before.
Have you tried any of the recipes from the cooking demonstrations?
OF COURSE! How could we turn away delicious and nutritious food like this?!
Marion Immerman began volunteering with our Vetri Cooking Lab program at McCall Elementary School last year. We asked her a few questions about her experience and what she’s looking forward to this upcoming semester. Thank you Marion for your support of Vetri Cooking Lab and the students that we serve!
Why do you volunteer with our Vetri Cooking Lab program?
Well, first of all, everyone should volunteer. And frankly, I chose Vetri because I like food.
What have you learned from Vetri Cooking Lab?
Besides a lot of great recipes? How — if I can subvert my organizational nature and let things flow more or less organically — almost always, in the time allotted, these kids complete and present a delicious meal. We oversee, but they are very capable.
What are you looking forward to this upcoming semester?
A whole bunch of eager new kids. Trying to learn the names that go along with the faces and personalities which, for me, are easier to track. For ten weeks, becoming a little family.
“Our farmers markets have the potential to connect the urban areas with the rural areas that surround the city,” said Jon Glyn, Farm to City’s Farmers Market Program Manager. “But there are a lot of obstacles to making these connections. Vetri’s [Mobile Teaching Kitchen] can help overcome some of these obstacles. Thanks to this program, weekly shoppers will learn more about the fresh food and seasonal produce available at the markets.”
His vision? That shoppers “will take this knowledge home with them along with their groceries and then use the knowledge and food to nourish their friends and families.”
View the Mobile Teaching Kitchen’s full schedule here. To learn more about Farm to City’s farmers markets across the city, visit their website.
Vetri Community Partnership values the dedicated volunteers that continue to provide support, passion, and excitement within our core programs. As the school year approaches, we have a high need for volunteers specifically within our Vetri Cooking Lab and Mobile Teaching Kitchen programs.
Every semester of Vetri Cooking Lab ends with a special family-style meal. Students are allowed to invite a guest to the meal, most often a parent or caregiver. The final lesson — that food is something that brings people together — is a great way for students to recap the semester and share their new skills with their friends and family.
As they enjoy the meal, many students reflect on what they’ve learned. Here’s some of what students were saying this semester:
“I will definitely be cooking this summer!” – Shane
“My favorite thing about cooking class was when I learned new things.” – Julia
“A few things that I like about cooking class is you meet new people, you get to make great food, you get to help people.” – Alexis
“I like Vetri Cooking Lab because you get to cook things that you never cooked before. There is also a lot of people there to help you. The food is very delicious and most people agree with that.” – Israel
“Dish washing was my favorite, and I was good at it!” – Michael
Vetri Community Partnership has over 150 active volunteers working across its programs. Our organization attracts a wide range of volunteers, each with interesting and varied backgrounds — educators, nutritionists, students, chefs, or simply food enthusiasts!
This National Volunteer Appreciation Week (April 15-21), we wanted to take a moment to highlight a few of our volunteers and learn more about why they volunteer with VCP!
Special thanks to all of VCP’s dedicated volunteers. There would be no mission without your generous support.
Volunteer with Vetri Cooking Lab at Dunbar Elementary
Danielle is a sophomore Public Health major at Temple University and is particularly interested in how diet can be used as a method of preventative healthcare.
What Danielle likes most about volunteering for Vetri Cooking Lab is that it gives her an opportunity to actually make a difference. As a student, she spends so much of her time learning about health problems, but is rarely given any information on simple things she can do to help mitigate these issues. Educating kids on the benefits of a well-rounded diet and helping them create nutritious meals is a great way to start changing how people view food and nutrition.
Volunteer with My Daughter’s Kitchen at Hunter Elementary
Joyce Dean is a new volunteer with our My Daughter’s Kitchen program! Joyce is a retired Nurse Anesthetist and brings a unique healthcare perspective to the kitchen. She has made a great impact in the kitchen by teaching students the importance of sterility and safety, especially while using knives.
So far, Joyce has been enjoying her volunteer experience and really loves working with such spectacular students, school staff, and fellow volunteers. When Joyce is not volunteering with Vetri Community Partnership, she enjoys traveling, making delicious dinners, and taking classes at Penn State.
Volunteer with Vetri Cooking Lab at Antonia Pantoja Charter School and William D. Kelley School
Michael has a varied background, including working in restaurants — both in the kitchen and the front of house. He is currently pursuing a career in education and volunteering with Vetri Cooking Lab allows him to use his past experience with food, but gives him a taste for working with students in an academic setting. When he’s not volunteering with Vetri Community Partnership, Michael volunteers with other organizations, including Manna.
Volunteer with Vetri Cooking Lab at Antonia Pantoja Charter School
Jenn is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu in France and the pastry program at The Culinary Institute in NY. She recently went back to school at West Chester University to obtain her bachelor’s degree in Nutrition and is applying for internships to meet the requirements for becoming a Registered Dietician.
In the meantime, she is taking advantage of a break in her schedule to volunteer with Vetri Cooking Lab at Pantoja. While she needs to get a ‘real job,’ she loves volunteering with VCL, as well as past experiences with a Vetri Community Partnership program at ESF camps and community visits with the Mobile Teaching Kitchen. Volunteering with Vetri Community Partnership fulfills what she feels is her personal mission — to help people learn to cook and eat healthy meals.
Volunteer with My Daughter’s Kitchen at William H. Loesche Elementary School
Jane Pupis has been volunteering with our My Daughter’s Kitchen program at William H. Loesche Elementary School for about 4 years! Jane is a retired teacher who came to learn about volunteering with Vetri Community Partnership through the weekly My Daughter Kitchen write-ups in The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Jane loves diving into new recipes with students every week and learning how to integrate healthy foods into a diet, alongside the youth. She is impressed by the students’ large culinary vocabulary, and often hears them crediting this lingo to the fun cooking shows they watch at home. When Jane is not volunteering with Vetri Community Partnership, she loves reading with her book club, exercising, and socializing with friends.
Volunteer with Vetri Cooking Lab at McMichael Morton School
Liz has been a volunteer with Vetri Cooking Lab for two semesters (last semester she was at Dunbar Elementary).
Her background is in fashion. When she was twenty, she launched a girls clothing line called Change de Chanel that was inspired by the famous fashion label, Chanel, with a quirky twist. Later, she worked and designed for women’s fashion lines for INC, Ann Taylor Loft, Lord & Taylor, and Ascena Retail Group.
Growing up in Los Angeles, Liz enjoyed many fresh, healthy meals at home with her family. Her mother, an interior designer, even self-published a cookbook called “30 Days in the Life of a LA Wife.” Now a mother herself, Liz involves her 7-year-old daughter in all aspects of meal preparation – reading recipes, discussing nutrition labels, shopping at Reading Terminal Market, and cooking.
Liz says it is amazing to teach kids in Vetri Cooking Lab about nutrition and the art of cooking. She enjoys learning more about each student and hearing about the foods they appreciate and gravitate to. She has found the volunteer experience to be enriching – for both the teachers and students!
Volunteer with Vetri Cooking Lab at Russell Byers Charter School
Jay has been volunteering with our Vetri Cooking Lab program at Russell Byers Charter School for the past two semesters. Jay works within the Human Resources Management team at TD Bank. Jay came to learn about volunteer opportunities at Vetri Community Partnership through his work, as TD Bank is a largely community driven corporation.
Jay was already familiar with the Vetri brand, being an avid Philadelphia foodie. When volunteering, Jay enjoys that the recipes are appropriate for all age groups and even loves to test them out at home! When Jay isn’t volunteering, he enjoys teaching and playing Jazz piano, trying out new restaurants, and traveling.
Vetri Community Partnership chefs were tasked with creating a simple recipe for a home cook that utilized pantry staples, included all the food groups, used minimal pots & pans, and only took 30 mins of prep, cook and serve time.
A true unicorn of a recipe! But after some deliberation, they came up with this one-pan burrito bowl.
Kelly Herrenkohl, VCP’s fearless COO and mother of four, decided to put it to the test. Her rubric – is this something she would actually be able to get on the table for her kids after a busy day at work?
The filling ingredients in the oven would take the longest, so she immediately started cubing, slicing, chopping. Everything went together in a bowl and she tossed it all with olive oil and taco seasoning. After spreading everything out on a sheet pan, she tossed it in the oven and turned her attention to the quinoa. Once the quinoa was slowly bubbling on the stove top, she quickly set up her toppings — grated cheese, chopped green onions, and tomatoes. And then, with nothing left to prep, Kelly had time to clean up.
In just over 30 minutes, the filling came out of the oven and the quinoa came off of the stove top. The self-assembly nature of the recipe meant that all she had to do was put out bowls and forks for her kids to help themselves.
It was a hit! We hope you enjoy this recipe with your family. It can easily be doubled or tripled to accommodate a crowd!
As part of Vetri Cucina‘s 20th anniversary, VCP co-founder Marc Vetri has been inviting chefs from across the country and around the world to collaborate with him for special dinners. Once of those guests was renowned Chef Massimo Bottura of Osteria Francescana, one of Italy’s most celebrated restaurants.
In addition to being the leading figure in modern Italian gastronomy, Bottura also founded Food for Soulto empower communities to fight against food waste in the interest of social inclusion and individual wellbeing.
Since he was unable to make it out to a Mobile Teaching Kitchen visit, we decided to bring the Mobile Teaching Kitchen to him! We were honored to share our mission and program with him, especially since his philanthropic work is so inspiring.
In Week 2 of Vetri Cooking Lab at Adaire Alexander School, we made Apple Cinnamon Pancakes with Raisin Butter and talked a lot about measuring different types of ingredients and cooking tools. We also practiced reading the recipe and quizzed their comprehension with a short test.
The students did an excellent job grating apples, measuring dry ingredients, rehydrating raisins to be blended with an immersion blender into our raisin butter. They mixed together the pancake batter and cooked 30 cakes total on the griddle. A small group put their heads together to figure out what the serving size was if we divided the recipe yield by the number of kids in the class. (Answer: 2 pancakes per student)
There were a surprising number of raisin skeptics! When I asked the raisin butter team to taste a raisin before we set them to soak in the warm water, I felt like I was watching that show Fear Factor! One chewed it reluctantly with a disturbed expression, another held it in his fingers and poked it once with his tongue, another took the tiniest nibbled possible, and the other held it in front of his mouth, pretended to eat it, and spun around to put it in the trash can. I laughed and reminded the class of our pledge to keep an open mind and try everything!
At the end of class when we all came together to taste and discuss the recipes, my day was made when one student exclaimed, “Shockingly, I love the raisin butter!” This spirit of adventure and discovery is one of many reasons why I love teaching this class.
On Saturday, April 21st, Vetri Community Partnership, along with co-founders Chef Marc Vetri and restaurateur Jeff Benjamin, will hold its first annual Eat to Empower Dinner Series & Food Festival at La Colombe Coffee Roasters (1335 Frankford Avenue) in Fishtown. All proceeds for this event will benefit Vetri Community Partnership. More information about the event can be found at vetricommunity.org/eat-to-empower/
Ribs from Mike’s BBQ ( 1703 S 11th Street)
General admission tickets for the Eat to Empower Food Festival will go on sale Thursday, March 15th. Tickets are $75 per person and include food, open bar and music. Tickets can be purchased at vcp.ticketleap.com/eat-to-empower. Featured food vendors include Big Gay Ice Cream, Cheu Noodle Bar, Mike’s BBQ, Pizzeria Vetri and Poi Dog. Drinks will be provided by Bluecoat American Gin, Dad’s Hat Pennsylvania Rye Whiskey, Tito’s Handmade Vodka and Yard’s Brewing Co. More food and drink providers will be added leading up to the event.
Attendees can expect a night of nicethings with Chill Moody and DJ Hank McCoy who will serve as emcee/DJ. Entertainment will also include original art created live by Saeed Briscoe.
“The food and beverage industry is full of passionate people,” said Marc Vetri. “It’s not just about what they’re doing in the kitchen or behind the bar – they are passionate about their families, communities, and giving back. We want this event to celebrate the generosity, heart and soul of the industry by mobilizing them around the mission of Vetri Community Partnership.”
Founded in 2008 by Chef Marc Vetri and restaurateur Jeff Benjamin, Vetri Community Partnership empowers children and families to lead healthy lives through fresh food, hands-on experiences and education. Vetri Community Partnership’s school lunch and nutrition education programs are active in more than 70 sites in Philadelphia and Camden, serving more than 7,500 students.
Also part of this event is the sold outEat to Empower Dinner Series. Held in six private homes across the Greater Philadelphia region, approximately 20 diners at each home will be treated to wine, a multi-course meal, and high-end auction featuring one-of-a-kind food and drink experiences. Featured national chefs are Rocco Whalen (Charlotte, NC & Cleveland, OH), Tom Colicchio (NYC & LA), Michele Forgione (Montreal, Canada), Bill Telepan (NYC), Tony Maws (Cambridge, MA), and Jeremiah Langhorne (Washington, DC). Each national chef will be paired up with a local chef, including Michael Solomonov, Nick Elmi, Joey Baldino, Rich Landau, Chad Williams, and Tod Wentz.
Sponsors for the first annual Eat to Empower Dinner Series & Food Festival include Tioga Franklin Savings Bank; Permit Capital Advisors, LLC; Clifton Larson Allen, LLP; Vending Trucks; Advanced Staging; Cashman & Associates; Bird & Banner; Color Reflections.
Sponsorship opportunities begin at $2,000. For more information on becoming a sponsor of the first annual Eat to Empower event, contact Genevieve Lynch at Vetri Community Partnership at email@example.com.
Thank you to the Courier-Post for helping us spread the word about our Mobile Teaching Kitchen‘s visits to Camden, NJ! Our chefs love spreading the word about healthy eating and showing people that it can be accessible, affordable, and delicious.
This is what one attendee had to say about our sweet potatoes, greens and cabbage recipe:
“I’m not usually a cabbage eater,” she said, dipping her fork into a plastic ramekin. “The only time I ever have it is in an egg roll. But this is really good; the way they put the sweet potato and spinach together, they really complement each other. And the cabbage gives it some crunch.”
CAMDEN – The plastic cartons were filled to the brims with cabbage, oranges, sweet potatoes, fresh greens, squash and zucchini. All of it was free, and more than 140 people streamed into the meeting room at the back of St. John the Baptist Church in East Camden to help themselves to the fresh produce being offered by Philabundance.
What’s better than getting fresh, healthy Eatiquette school lunches? Learning how to make them!
As part of the revamped Eatiquette360 program, we’re getting students involved in making the dishes they’re served at lunch and giving them the recipes to recreate them at home with their families.
This semester, our chef mentors are teaching students how to make kale salad and a chickpea salad. Students loved massaging vinaigrette into the kale and spicing the chickpeas with cumin — it smells like tacos!
We look forward to bringing more hands-on cooking classes to our Eatiquette partner schools!
We were honored to host Ted Dallas (Special Assistant to Gov. Tom Wolf and former Secretary of the PA Dept. of Human Services) at Cristo Rey Philadelphia High School for a delicious Eatiquette school lunch. On the menu was a curried chicken salad sandwich with yellow rice and a warm pinto bean and pepper salad.
Looking for ways to get your kids involved in the kitchen? We put together a list of tasks appropriate for each age group.
Preschoolers (Ages 3-5)
At this age, it might be hard to find basic tasks for your youngster to do in the kitchen. With a rapid growth of their imaginations, the need to touch everything in reach also grows.
But have no fear! These fun tasks will keep your toddler busy while making sure they are staying safe:
Opening ingredients from packaging
Washing fruits and vegetables
Peeling off skin and roots
Stirring dry ingredients
Spreading batter, icing, butter, etc.
Setting the table
Grade Schoolers (Ages 6-8)
Your child has moved on from simple tasks in the kitchen and is now ready to take on a few more responsibilities. Although your 6 to 8-year-old can’t perform every job in the kitchen quite yet, you are now able to begin loosening the reins.
These hands-on tasks will start to give your child a bit more freedom in the kitchen:
Stirring wet and dry ingredients
Melting ingredients using the microwave
Rolling cookie dough into small balls
Cutting soft ingredients
Pre-Teens (Ages 9-12)
Although you can’t kick back your feet while your pre-teen cooks a three-course meal just yet, your child has now advanced their status to an assistant chef.
Although you may still want to keep an eye on their progress, these tasks will give your 9 to 12-year-old monitored independence in the kitchen:
Reading recipe steps out loud
Preheating oven and stove
Cutting vegetables on cutting board
Loading and unloading dishwasher
Making pancakes, waffles and other simple breakfast foods
Teenagers (Ages 13+)
Your child has finally reached the age of total cooking independence. It’s time to let them show you what they’ve learned over the years. But don’t forget: bonding with your teenager in the kitchen is still fun!
So sit back, relax and let your teen perform these more advanced tasks:
Using all kitchen appliances including a food processor, blender and mixer
As 2017 comes to a close, we’d like to take this opportunity to look back at Vetri Community Partnership’s amazing year. We expanded all of our programs to more schools and communities, bought a second Mobile Teaching Kitchen, and evolved the Eatiquette school lunch program to include classroom instruction and community outreach.
Special thanks to all of our dedicated donors and volunteers for helping to make it possible.
We thought we’d celebrate by listing the year’s Top 7 articles about Vetri Community Partnership. Enjoy!
The Philly Restaurants That Give Back to the Community – VCP co-founder Marc Vetri started the year off right, landing the #4 spot on Eater Philadelphia’s list of “the most generous tables in town.” We continue to be inspired that so many Philly chefs and restaurateurs prioritize giving back to the community.
This Food Truck Teaches City Kids How To Cook (And Love!) Their Veggies– In February, our Mobile Teaching Kitchen (just three-months-old at the time) was included on Rodale’s Organic Life’s “100 Amazing Ideas” list in their Innovation Issue: “Distributing healthy, seasonal veggies in the city is great in theory—but what if kids don’t want to eat them, and people don’t have the recipes or familiarity to cook them? Philadelphia chef and restaurateur Marc Vetri has the answer: his new Mobile Teaching Kitchen”
Changing perceptions one bowl of vegetable soup at a time – Each semester, Maureen Fitzgerald publishes 8-weeks of recipes, anecdotes and stories about our My Daughter’s Kitchen after-school cooking program. This article from March is one of our favorites from the Spring semester, mostly due to this high praise of the vegetable minestrone soup: “It tastes like angels made it,” she said dreamily. And then, as she continued to sip the soup, she changed her mind. “No, not angels. This tastes so good, it tastes like God himself made it.”
Vetri Community Partnership’s Mobile Teaching Kitchen makes fresh food approachable – After a couple of months on the road, VCP’s community outreach manager Amy Falkenstein wrote a piece for Philly.com to explain how the Mobile Teaching Kitchen bridges the final gap to healthy eating by showing how simple and approachable making from-scratch dishes at home can be. She explains: “When I hear someone say ‘I can’t believe this tastes so good!’ or ‘She’s a picky eater, I never thought she’d eat this!’ I know that we are doing our part by making healthy food preparation and eating approachable, fun, and, most importantly, delicious.”
North Philly kids plant, harvest and feast on fresh food at Osteria– This summer, we were excited to partner with our friends at Osteria to create a special experience for students in Duckrey Elementary School’s Steppingstone Scholars program. On a beautiful July afternoon, they got their hands dirty planting herbs, tomatoes, greens and more in the restaurant’s adjacent garden with cofounder Jeff Michaud and chef de cuisine Jesse Grossman. In October, they returned to harvest and enjoy a meal using the garden’s bounty.
Fresh for All produce market in Souderton joins in the giving– As part of 6ABC’s Thanksgiving coverage, reporter Tamala Edwards visited the Mobile Teaching Kitchen at Philabundance’s Fresh for All market in Souderton, PA. Every Tuesday, Philabundance sets up a free market and VCP’s chef mentors lead cooking demonstrations that show shoppers what to do with the fresh produce they just received.
Vetri Cooking Lab gets kids in the kitchen– What’s our “secret sauce” for getting kids to try (and enjoy!) fresh, healthy ingredients? VCP’s CEO Marlene Olshan explains how our Vetri Cooking Lab program engages students in the process of cooking and eating, which in turns inspires them to make healthier decisions about the food they purchase, cook and eat.
Getting affordable and fresh food is an important first step to obtaining food security, but what if you don’t have the basic skills or confidence to turn those raw ingredients into a healthy meal for your family?
We’re proud to partner with Philabundance‘s #FreshForAll program. Through this program, Philabundance provides clients with fresh, seasonal produce — ranging from strawberries in the summer to spaghetti squash in the fall.
From left: Evan Hudson-Crump (student at Tanner G. Duckrey Elementary); Marc Vetri; DanTroy (Senior Vice President and General Counsel at GSK); and Tyreemah Mainor-Jettel (student at Tanner G. Duckrey Elementary) Photograph by Alan Brian Nilsen
How do you encourage kids to eat more healthy food? By teaching them to cook tasty, nutritious, kid-friendly recipes with ingredients they can find in their own neighborhoods. Today, GSK announced a $440,000 grant to Vetri Community Partnership to expand their Vetri Cooking Lab program to 30 after-school sites across Philadelphia and Camden. This program will reach 1,200 students over the next two years with a 10-week, hands-on cooking and nutrition curriculum.
“GSK is proud to support the Vetri Cooking Lab after-school program for local students,” said Daniel Troy, Senior Vice President and General Counsel, GSK. “The Vetri Community Partnership team has already shown that their innovative approach teaches young people to make healthier eating choices, and we can’t wait for Vetri Cooking Lab to reach another 1,200 students over the next two years.”
Last year, GSK funded a pilot of Vetri Cooking Lab, reaching 343 students with 480 hours of nutrition education, after which students reported that they were cooking on their own, using nutritional labels to make eating choices and able to find healthy food in their own neighborhoods. Support for Vetri Cooking Lab is part of GSK’s long-standing commitment to build healthy communities across the world and in the US, including Greater Philadelphia where the company employs nearly 5,000 people.
GSK and Vetri Cooking Labs at Dr. Tanner G. Duckrey Public School, Philadelphia. Photograph by Alan Brian Nilsen
“Engaging kids in the process of cooking and eating fresh, healthy food is a powerful way to teach them about nutrition, the food system and their own health and wellness,” said Marc Vetri, founder of Vetri Community Partnership. “In Vetri Cooking Lab, we’re doing that while also connecting the preparation of the recipe to all of the science, math and reading concepts they’re learning during the school day.”
Vetri Cooking Lab builds on Philadelphia’s success to drive down obesity rates among young people, as well as ongoing efforts to expand high-quality out-of-school time programming for students. Every after-school site that participated in the pilot is running Vetri Cooking Lab again this school year, and dozens more are eager to start the popular program for their own students.
“The program is having a noticeable impact. Students are thinking more critically about their food choices – choosing whole foods over processed foods – and taking their recipes home to their parents and preparing the dishes with their families,” said Marlene Olshan, CEO of Vetri Community Partnership. “We are grateful to GSK for their generous support and look forward to partnering with them to improve the health outcomes for our region’s children.”
As a teacher it’s not always easy encouraging your students to eat healthy. Most kids would prefer to snack on a candy bar rather than a healthy vegetable. But being a teacher comes the responsibility to be a role model for your students. Implementing routines in the classroom to promote healthy eating and living can have a significant impact on your students well-being. Here are some healthy ideas to practice with your students
WHAT YOU CAN START DOING RIGHT AWAY
Model healthy behavior in the classroom – drink water, eat fresh fruits and vegetables as snacks, etc.
Encourage students to think critically about how food makes them feel – how does eating apples, bananas or almonds compare to eating fries and a milkshake?
Sit with students in the cafeteria and encourage them to try new things. Ask questions about their meal – how does it taste, who made it for them, what do they like best?
Ask students about their favorite foods and what they like to eat outside of school. Make suggestions to stimulate curiosity about new and nutritious fruits and vegetables.
Encourage students to offer to help in the kitchen if their family cooks at home – whether it’s doing dishes or peeling carrots.
WHAT YOU CAN DO WITH A LITTLE PLANNING
Start an after-school cooking club or global cuisines club
Incorporate nutritious foods into classroom celebrations or substitute healthier options for school bake sales – fresh fruit skewers, zucchini bread, etc.
With help from motivated students, advocate for healthier options in the cafeteria
Invite local chefs, farmers and other food industry professionals to talk to students on career day
Plan a “field trip” for your students to visit your school kitchen and speak with the individuals who ensure there’s food for students each day
Use whole fruits and vegetables to teach science or biology lessons – for example, to show the parts of a plant, vegetable families, etc.
Teach a lesson on junk food marketing and how it targets school-age children – have students develop and draw their own healthy food mascots
Use food as a creative writing prompt – describe your favorite food, write instructions to preparing a recipe, review your favorite restaurant, etc.
HELPFUL RESOURCES FOR HEALTHY SCHOOLS & CLASSROOMS
It’s no secret that we’re big fans of hands-on learning, so when the Please Touch Museum asked us to join us at their monthly First Wednesday events this summer, we were thrilled!
From 4-7 p.m. on July 5th and August 2nd, our Mobile Teaching Kitchen will be parked out front of the Please Touch Museum for food-focused programming for parents and children. Attendees will have the opportunity to make and try a seasonal, nutritious dish and then visit the museum for a deeply discounted admission price of $2.
As Please Touch Museum CEOPatricia D. Wellenbach explains: “Please Touch Museum is dedicated to the education and well-being of the whole child. Our focus on early learning and skill-building extends to teaching children and their families how to make good choices about the foods they eat, and ultimately lead healthier, more active lives. We are thrilled to partner with Vetri to make this impactful programming accessible to families throughout the summer.”
“Our goal is to show people that healthy ingredients and at-home food preparation can be approachable, fun and, more importantly, delicious,” said VCP Community Outreach Manager, Amy Falkenstein — also known as Chef Amy.
So, stop by, head to the supermarket exhibit, practice using measuring cups, hear a story that’ll bring cooking to life, and take a recipe for the road!
We promise it’ll be fun and full of flavor. We hope to see you there!
When: July 5th & August 2nd, 4-7 p.m. Where: Please Touch Museum – Memorial Hall, Fairmount Park, 4231 Avenue of the Republic, Philadelphia, PA 19131
Eating fresh seasonal produce comes with a handful of benefits – better taste, more nutritional benefits, and you can get more bang for your buck. Not to mention, that purchasing what’s in season typically means you’re supporting local farmers, especially if you’re picking up from a farmers’ market. Seeing that July is upon us, you may be wondering, what produce is in season during July in the Northeast? Good question! Here’s a list of what is in season, right now:
As quick as July came, it’ll be on the books before we know it. Check out this handy Seasonal Food Guide in the months to come, tailored to your location!
The 12th Annual Great Chefs Event continues into the night at a new location featuring special guest chefs Adam Perry Lang, Michael Solomonov and Jose Garces. Entertainment provided by Philadelphia’s own rap legend, Schoolly D.
With a reputation nearly as big as the main event, the Great Chefs Event After Party returns at a new, walkable location! Building 3 at Urban Outfitters, Inc. is a fabulous industrial space just a few, short steps from the Great Chefs Event’s location. A limited number of tickets are available for the After Party, which will take place on Tuesday, June 20th from 9:30 p.m. to 2 a.m., immediately following the 12th 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 veteran Adam Perry Lang (author of Serious Barbecue, BBQ25, and Charred & Scruffed). Lang will serve short ribs from right off the big rig smoker. For the second year in a row, Philly favorite and James Beard Award 2017 Winner for Outstanding Chefs, Michael Solomonov (Cook N Solo) will serve Federal Donuts fried chicken sandwiches. Another Philly staple, Jose Garces (Garces Group) will serve tacos from Distrito Food Truck. The After Party’s beer bar will be sponsored by Peroni Nastro Azzurro, where they’ll be featuring their new slim cans. Other beverage sponsors include Philadelphia Distilling Bluecoat Gin and Tito’s Vodka.
DJing at the After Party for the first time is Philadelphia’s own gangsta rap legend Schoolly D. Schoolly D, born Jesse Bonds Weaver Jr., is one of the most iconic figures in rap music. Starting with his influential role in the creation of gangsta rap, Schoolly D has transcended the boundaries of genre and has created “rap” music that has been integrated in films (King of New York, & Bad Lieutenant, etc.), animated series (Aqua Teen Hunger Force), as well as sampled by some of the most prolific acts around including: Lil’ Wayne, The Chemical Brothers, and The Roots. Deemed a “pioneer…” by Jay-Z and credited by Ice-T as having the first gangsta rap record, Schoolly D’s career has given inspiration to countless musicians and fans alike. Sounds like “Gucci Time,” “Saturday Night,” and “P.S.K., What Does It Mean?” have become classics and illustrate the uncompromising narrative that has become synonymous with the hardcore gangsta rap of the eighties.
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 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. Starr Restaurants is the official After Party sponsors.
Everyone knows it’s a nice summer evening with delicious food for two great causes. But did you know some of these interesting facts about the event?
Last year, eight 2016 James Beard Foundation Awards finalists participated. This year six 2017 semi-finalists are participating at The Great Chefs Event. Winners are announced on May 1st – sample dishes for the best chefs and restaurants in the world!
6,347 is the average number of steps taken during the event. The event is held in the beautiful and eclectic Urban Outfitters headquarters at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. At 85′ wide and 400′ long, the space comfortably fits the chefs, vintners, breweries and attendees.
$35,000 is the highest amount a live auction item has sold for. It happened in 2012 for a trip to Italy with Marc Vetri and Jeff Michaud. The live auction at The Great Chefs Event is not to be missed! Unique experiences such as culinary trips, unforgettable experiences and world-renown chefs cooking in your kitchen are some of the amazing items that you could win.
You will never eat dessert the same way again. While many of the food samplings at The Great Chefs Event are savory, there are plenty of options to satisfy your sweet tooth. From Charm City Cakes – whose boundary-pushing cakes have been to presidential inaugurations – to Big Gay Ice Cream serving up boozy milkshakes, you’ll never want just plain vanilla again.
Over 1,200 pounds of mortadella has been served at the After Party! For the last 6 years, the Vetri crew has cooked the Italian sausage in a beer and water bath for two days. Last year the sausage was 335 lbs and needed to be forklifted into Victory Brewing’s fermentation tank. Maybe this is the year the sausage can get into the Guinness Book of World Records? After Party access tickets are available for purchase and features additional bites from BBQ master Adam Perry Lang, Adam Arrison and Philly favorites Michael Solomonov and Jose Garces.
The Great Chefs Event has inspired other culinary events around the country! Because The Great Chefs Event delivers an amazing experience and raises so much money, other chefs around the country have used the foundation that Marc Vetri, Jeff Benjamin and Jeff Michaud have built to create their own events in Los Angeles, New York City and Chicago, all benefiting ALSF.
The first Great Chefs Event had only eight local chefs and 100 guests. That was in 2006. Fast forward 10 years, last year The Great Chefs Event had over 40 chefs and 1,000 guests. But here is the best part…
Over $730,000 was raised in 2016. That’s the equivalent of over 3,500 students getting healthy lunches for a year through the Vetri Community Partnership and almost an entire month of childhood cancer research funded through Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation.
Now that you’re an insider, get your tickets before they sell out!
On Tuesday, June 20, more than 40 of the best chefs from across the country and around the world will convene in Philadelphia for the 12th AnnualGreat Chefs Event. 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 After Party Access tickets are currently on sale at vetricommunity.org and AlexsLemonade.org.
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 Hugh Acheson of 5 & 10 in Athens, GA; Frank Castronovo & Frank Falcinetti of Frankies Spuntino & Prime Meats in Brooklyn; Derek Dammann of Maison Publique in Montreal, QC; Evan Funke of Felix in LA; Sara Jenkins of Nina June in Rockport, ME; and Ryan Poli of The Catbird Seat in Nashville. Returning chefs include Paul Kahan of Blackbird, avec, The Publican and Big Star in Chicago; Alex Guarnaschelli of Butter in NYC and television personality on The Food Network; and back for the first time since 2013, Duff Goldman of Charm City Cakes in Baltimore and star of The Food Network’s Ace of Cakes and Cake Masters.
Several of this year’s participating chefs have also been named finalists in the 2017 James Beard Foundation Awards, including Outstanding Restaurateur, Ken Oringer (Toro, NYC) and Outstanding Chef, Outstanding Service, Michael Solomonov (Cook n Solo, Philadelphia). Also present will be regional Best Chefs finalists: Michael Cimarusti (Connie & Ted’s, LA), Andy Ticer + Michael Hudman (Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen, Memphis) and Greg Vernick (Vernick, Philadelphia).
The country’s best winemakers, brewers and mixologists will also be present, including Joe Campanale (Annona), Summer Wolff (Indie Wineries, NYC), Stacey Swenson (Dante, NYC), Jesse Vida (BlackTail, NYC), Neal Bodenheimer (Cure), Bill Covaleski (Victory Brewing Company), Tom Kehoe (Yard’s Brewing Co.), Tom Peters (Monk’s Café, Russian River Brewing Company), and Carol Stoudt (Stoudt’s Brewing Company).
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. After Party guests can also count on additional bites from BBQ master Adam Perry Lang, Adam Arrison (Sodexo) and Philly favorites Michael Solomonov (CookNSolo) and Jose Garces (Garces Group). The event will also feature specialty cocktails and entertainment.
The Vetri Cooking Lab classes take place every Thursday at Martha’s Table. Each week, around 15 4th-6th graders learn how to make infused water, smoothies, pancakes, and much more.
John Cahill, Program Coordinator/Instructor at Martha’s Table, said: “I like to compare cooking to painting. There is a visceral joy and beauty in creating good food. Students get to experience a real practical sense of accomplishment. The spark I see in the kids at the Vetri Cooking lab, some of whom have been coming to Martha’s Table since they were very young children, is incredible. It’s exciting to see them get excited about learning about and preparing healthy foods. Haley [VCP’s instructor] is great at engaging the students. She brings an energy to the class that really piques their interests – even after a long day at school.”
Click below for more photos and to read more about our budding partnership with Martha’s Table:
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!
“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.”