Guest Post by Dean Zatkowsky

The days are long, and very, very full. We start with a healthy breakfast, prepared by a handful of students. Then we spend about an hour in the classroom, work hard (but efficiently) in the kitchen for a couple of hours, enjoy a delicious scratch-cooked lunch, and then return to the classroom for an afternoon of lessons, tastings, and more.

Breakfast Burritos were on the menu this morning. Available with or without egg, these are really popular with kids.

Breakfast Burritos were on the menu this morning. Available with or without egg, these are really popular with kids.

In the morning session, we reviewed some of yesterday's lesson on grains to help us understand the nutritional value - and handling challenges, of whole grains.

In the morning session, Chef Naomi reviewed some of yesterday’s lesson on grains to help us understand the nutritional value – and handling challenges, of whole grains.

The bulk of today's lessons were about the handling and preparation of meats, so we started the kitchen session by calibrating our thermometers.

The bulk of today’s lessons were about the handling and preparation of meats, so we started the kitchen session by calibrating our thermometers in ice water.

A properly calibrated thermometer is essential to scratch cooking, because food must be heated to the proper temperature to prevent pathogens from making kids sick.

A properly calibrated thermometer is essential to scratch cooking, because food must be heated to the proper temperature to eliminate pathogens that could make kids sick.

Next month we'll post some of the recipes from today's class, but I can tell you right now they were delicious.

Next month we’ll post some of the recipes from today’s class, but I can tell you right now they were delicious.

Here, students work on a southwest lasagne recipe, but they are also working on organization and teamwork, two concepts of time management that make scratch cooking practical in a school environment.

Here, students work on a southwest lasagne recipe, but they are also working on organization and teamwork, two concepts of time management that make scratch cooking practical in a school environment.

Working together from standardized recipes, a small number of professionals can feed a large number of children, teachers, and administrators.

Working together from standardized recipes, a small number of professionals can feed a large number of children, teachers, and administrators.

Here's something every teacher loves to see: a group of intent students taking notes. In this case, about the rules for handling raw chicken.

Here’s something every teacher loves to see: a group of intent students taking notes. In this case, about the rules for handling raw chicken.

 

Honest Claud's Spice Bazaar! Chef Claud led a tasting of common - and less common - spices. The classroom smelled like all the best restaurants in the world!

Honest Claud’s Spice Bazaar! Chef Claud led a tasting of common – and less common – spices. The classroom smelled like all the best restaurants in the world!

Once again, I count my blessings and feel extremely grateful to be associated with the School Food Initiative. Today I learned about dry cooking techniques, how to properly take the internal temperature of different pieces of chicken, how to sanitize a work area where raw proteins have been prepared, and how to make an awesome – and completely personal – barbecue rub!

These posts of mine are not meant to convey the full curriculum of the School Food Initiative’s Culinary Training; there’s too much going on for a simple photographer like myself. But we had a documentary film crew with us this week, and over the coming months we’ll share some of their work on this blog. Please subscribe to the blog (email and RSS subscription options are available on the right) to receive notification of future posts. In the meantime, join us for tomorrow’s post as our 14 intrepid food service workers graduate from Culinary Boot Camp!

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