Cooking at Cook Elementary

rogueApron's Chef to School, Cook Elementary, May 8 2009

“It smells like chicken!” was the chorus, in session after session, as the kids smelled the Welsh onions, frying in olive oil.

“It tastes like chicken!”

“Like ice cream!”

“It’s NASTY”

“It’s good. You’re a good chef!”

It was rogueApron’s first Chef to School experience – this time a Career Day at Cook Elementary School, down the road from Daddy DZ and the Standard on Memorial. The gold capitol building glimmered to my right as I pulled up that morning, competing with fire trucks, SWAT teams and police officers for the attention of elementary school kids.

I hustled the propane burner, the wok, the oil, and the salt up the steps of the school to room 106; where Spanish lessons happened among chaotic bulletin boards and a pile of sombreros in the corner.

Farmer Duane Marcus was the first to arrive; piles of mustard, turnip, and broccoli greens tucked under his tattooed arms. We chatted briefly about the lesson plan, myself swilling coffee, in the moments before they piled in.

Twenty of them! Little! Rambunctious! LOUD!

The second graders, in a mad rush, pulled their tiny maroon chairs closer to the demonstration table – which, unfortunately for this cook – was knee-high and not conducive to chopping.

Their teacher quickly moved them to the circular tables; while photographer Amy, Miss Juliet and Chip arrived to help.

And so began the demonstrations – we did six that day – Farmer Duane explaining the parts of the plant, the kids ripping the greens into bite-sized shreds, rinsing them at the table, and then waiting with anticipation as I sautéed them in the front of the room.

Miss Juliet and Chip did their level best to manage their smiles; photographer Amy kept cracking up.

By the end of the day, we had our scripts down … explaining the parts of the tongue … holding our noses to explore scent and taste, and MOO! MOO! MOOing! as we chewed like cows to explore flavor and texture.

We learned our lessons too – not to leave in sight hot sauce, vinegar, or salt, which the kids all clamored for, because it was there.

“Can we eat the bacon one?”

It was 2pm, and the kids were done with classes – and Career Day. It was time to go home.

“Puhllleaaase can we eat the bacon one?”

They meant swiss chard – it’s thick white stem reminded them of bacon.

“Can we eat the turnip?” … the raw turnip, roots attached, which Farmer Duane brought to demonstrate where the greens leaves had come from.

“PUHLeasee!!” they clamored … and with disbelief, we passed out bits of raw vegetables to the hyper, bouncing kids, who shouted over each other, “I’m the first to try it!” “No me!”, while the shyer girls among them held out their little hands politely, waiting their turn.

“Can we help you clean?” they asked myself and Miss Juliet. “Can we help?”

No, dears, thank you … we replied, cracking up. The last group of the day lined up to leave, but one little girl broke away from the pack. She hugged first Miss Juliet, and then myself, asking sweetly, “When are you coming back?”

rogueApron's Chef to School, Cook Elementary, May 8 2009

More info

Photos courtesy the badass Amy Herr, Amy Herr Photography. Thanks to Duane Marcus of Urban Gardener, Miss Juliet Ceballos, and Chip Kaye for their awesome teamwork. Kudos to Erin Croom of Georgia Organics for spearheading the Chef to School program among Atlanta schools, and Miss Jacinta Williams of Cook Elementary School for inviting us.

Haps from rogueApron

Hey all …

We know many of you are as passionate about supporting good food for Georgia as we are. So here are two opportunities coming up for ya … plus a sneek peek bout the next dinner.

FRIDAY MAY 1. Atlanta Local Food Initiative (ALFI) conference & mixer

After a day-long conference/conversation over at St. Philips Cathedral, lots of movers and shakers in the local food movement will convene at Food 101.

If you’d like to get involved in local food change, join us at Food 101 in the Highlands for patio drinks and food-forward conversation.

More info on ALFI and the mixer: http://tinyurl.com/ALFImixer

FRIDAY MAY 8. rogueApron’s Chef to School program

rogueApron is proud to announce our first Chef to School event at Cook Elementary school on Memorial near downtown. If you’d like to assist Lady Rogue with simple cooking demonstrations, please drop a line at ladyrogueATL@gmail.com.

NEXT DINNER. Oh, you guys always want to know. How does a magical garden dinner with an Alice in Wonderland theme sound to you? Follow the white rabbit … you’ve got until the first weekend in June to get your costume ready. Registration available soon.

Best,

Lady Rogue

Tomorrow Night! Georgia Organics Afterparty @ Harvest Farm

Hey guys!

Thanks so much for all of your kind support and notes about our first anniversary. We cannot wait to get photos back – and to get started planning the next one!

But in the interim – here’s a warm invitation to meet up with food-passionate Georgians over beer. (Yeah, that’s kinda our thing.)

The Georgia Organics conference is happening *right now* – a pretty awesome conglomeration of growers, producers, chefs, and pretty much anyone rad who loves good food. The conference is sold out – but there’s no reason the conversations have to end there.

We’re taking it to Harvest Farms for the afterparty!

first draft, cultivateATL logo

Afterglow – the official afterparty gathering of the Georgia Organics Conference

2124 Bouldercrest Rd in East Atlanta – right off 285 [map]
10:30pm • Saturday, March 21

$10 donation for beer
Fundraiser: so more farmers can attend next year’s conference!

Hosted by cultivateATL – a rad advisory board for Georgia Organics that rogueApron is super thrilled to be a part of.

rogueApron joins Chef to School program

rogueApron is excited to announce a forthcoming partnership with the Chef to School program. Basically: food-loving chefs and cooks show kids that local vegetables are delicious with in-school cooking demonstrations. The kids love exploring their senses through food and getting involved with prep – and they are way more likely to grow up to make healthy food choices!

Many individual programs are getting started … partnerships where schools have local gardens, and ones in which kids have very little access to fresh food.

rogueApron will be planning some alliances soon, so be on the lookout for opportunities to join us.

Thanks go to Nichole Lupo and Seth Freedman, of Seeds of Nutrition, and Erin Croom, the Farm to School coordinator for Georgia Organics for their hard work in organizing! It’s a great program – if you’d like to get involved, email Nichole Lupo at nlupo@mendezfoundation.org!

More info and pictures

Georgia Organics Chef to School Program
Farmer Joe of Love is Love Farms and Michael Wall of Georgia Organics. The kids just eat up Joe’s positive energy.

Georgia Organics Chef to School Program
Atlanta’s food glitterati tours the school garden.

Georgia Organics Chef to School Program
Georgia Organics’ Erin Croom goes over the program with volunteer chefs. She’s a super nice lady, and so full of energy for the project.

Georgia Organics Chef to School Program
It’s not a whole lot now, but the kids at Neighborhood Charter School in Grant Park are very excited to grow their garden.

Georgia Organics Chef to School Program
Planted with such care. The kids we worked with today were thrilled to report that potatoes would be popping up this summer.

Attracting Young People to Georgia Organics

Hey guys!

As some of you know, rogueApron is really gearing up to be more involved in our local food community in ’09. We’re very pleased to announce that we’re working with Georgia Organics to help attract young people to the organization. (Yay, GO! You can join here.)

A great group of folks convened this week to meet and to brainstorm … and I’ve had so many ideas since then that I just had to share.

How would you attract young people to Georgia Organics? Here were my ideas! [Download as a formatted pdf here.]

***
Create a Supporter/Fan classification
This generation doesn’t pay for anything – not downloaded music, newspaper content, or streamed television. As the economy retracts, and wallets shrink, the membership fee becomes even more of an obstacle to attracting membership. Create a ‘free’ membership classification – think of it as an entry-level membership.

Create a significant difference between the free and the paid membership levels, to retain the loyalty of paying members
• Use the free/supporter/fan classification to grow your membership numbers – imagine telling your congressman you represent 50,000 Georgians!
• Use the free/supporter/fan classification to reach out to more people about Georgia Organics, and the farmers and programs it supports. Increase your digital media output (via Facebook, Twitter, emails, and the like), and feed your supporter/fans with a constant stream of relevant information about local food
• Create constant incentives to ‘upgrade’ to a ‘paid’ membership – earning ‘paid’ membership via community service, getting access to exclusive food events, or dining incentives (e.g. percentage off bills for GO members at participating restaurants)

Create Blog/Website membership levels
Atlanta food blogs will be some of the best way of recruiting food-savvy folks. After all, their readers are local food lovers! Create a ‘blog/website’ membership level, and create digital ‘badges’ that sites can display to signal that they are a supporter of GO. These badges, incidentally, act as free advertising for GO, encouraging readers of these sites to join GO.

Think transparent
Whatever we end up doing – and there are so many great ideas! – keep the process transparent. Post materials like this – even seemingly boring stuff like meeting minutes – on the web for others to view and comment on. You never know where the next great idea will come from … so keep the discussions out in the open. Let’s inspire people to become more involved in their communities!