CIA Opens Kitchen to School Districts

Symposium gives child nutrition professionals hands-on menu development opportunities.

As schools look for ways to meet the new school meal regulations and to increase the amount of from-scratch items, menu development training is becoming increasingly important. In April, The Culinary Institute of America opened its kitchen to 14 school foodservice professionals from seven districts for the Getting Back to Your Roots Symposium, sponsored by Schwan’s Food Service. The three-day conference based at the CIA’s San Antonio campus focused on culinary development, with an emphasis on plate presentation and creating food for children’s palates. FSD talked with Mark Ainsworth, CEC, professor of culinary at the CIA and the architect of the symposium, about the conference and what attendees learned. 

The group poses for a shot at the CIA’s San Antonio campus. The districts each sent two representatives. The seven districts are: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, Cobb County School District in Georgia, Mesa Public Schools, Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Minneapolis Public Schools, San Diego Unified School District and Northside Independent School District in San Antonio.

“We wanted to get them out of their day-to-day and into a new environment to foster ideas,” Ainsworth says about the reasoning behind creating the symposium. “They need training to help them meet the new school regulations in creative ways, using cooking methods they use every day.”

Ainsworth says he wanted to create an environment where school foodservice professionals would gain new menu items without being in unfamiliar territory. Ainsworth spent two years working with schools, so he says he is familiar with the equipment constraints that most schools are dealing with. For that reason, he ensured participants at the conference were using equipment that can be found in most school kitchens.  

Pages

More From FoodService Director

Menu Development
craft beer flight
A draw for happy hour...

San Francisco restaurateur Charles Phan plans to serve beer and wine, and depending on liquor licensing, perhaps cocktails as well. “For faculty and staff on campus, it will be a really wonderful place to come to and have a glass of wine,” Wolch says. “Right now, we have The Faculty Club bar, which is a very historic spot, but this is going to be much more contemporary.”

And for morning coffee...

Phan’s plan for made-to-order coffee is bound to be a boon for both faculty and students. “We’ll have a brand-new espresso machine,” Phan says. Wolch adds, “Most...

Ideas and Innovation
chicken herbs

We make and broadcast short YouTube videos on TV monitors to educate our customers about cooking techniques, like how to cut up a chicken or what herbs and spices go well together. The monitors also are used to display daily menus, nutritional and allergen information, upcoming foodservice events and local weather forecasts.

Managing Your Business
wurster west may 2016

At a nearly 150-year-old university, every stone column and classroom has treasured stories to tell. But with that history come the logistical challenges of operating in outdated spaces—especially for foodservice. Such is the case at University of California at Berkeley, where longtime cafe Ramona’s in Wurster Hall closed in March to make way for an updated, as-yet unnamed concept.

With little more than a steam table and coolers, Ramona’s was limited by its lack of ventilation. And, as a former classroom space, it never was intended to function for foodservice, says Jennifer Wolch...

Ideas and Innovation
leftovers containers

We use our Menu Forward idea to empower staff to develop menu items and keep leftovers in check. Product left at the end of service may be claimed by any station to become part of a new item within six weeks. I’m happy to see my star team fighting for their ideas and products; the benefit to food cost is spot-on, and my freezer has no mystery items lurking in the corner.

FSD Resources