Restaurant chef brings cajun cuisine to school lunch

Chefs Move to Schools partnership brings new flavors to students.

Feb. 14—Chef Charles Gilliam, owner of  Okra’s Louisiana Bistro in old town Manassas, thought developing a menu for school students would be a piece of cake. But things were a little harder than he expected.

“They have a tight budget they have to work with, and unfortunately they have really, really tight restrictions for what they’re able to do to put together the food for the kids,” Gilliam said.

But Gilliam hasn’t given up. He’s been working with the school system since last year as part of First lady Michelle Obama’s “Chefs Move to Schools” program, which is run through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to help chefs partner with schools to create healthy meals. On Friday, Gilliam introduced the first menu item of red beans and rice, maquechoux and corn bread to the students at Metz Middle School, with much success.

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Orange County Community College in upstate New York is replacing its dining staff with vending machines , The Times Herald-Record reports.

The staff members, who will be let go in June, include nine full-time and three part-time workers. Students say they will miss the employees and the access to fresh food.

The Orange County Community College Association, which oversees the school’s cafeterias, says the layoffs were partly due to a $150,000 deficit accumulated by foodservice operations last year.

Read the full story via The Times Herald-Record .

Industry News & Opinion

Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, is eliminating paper cups in its Commons dining hall and has given each student a reusable stainless steel mug as a replacement, bates.edu reports.

The mugs were distributed via a promotion earlier this week where students could fill their new mugs with a free smoothie. Stickers and other trinkets were set out for students to use to “bling” their mugs.

Dining services turned to students to determine which type of mug would be offered. The college also installed a mug-washing sink in the dining Commons earlier this year.

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Compass has partnered with Jose Andres ’ ThinkFoodGroup, allowing the chef and foodservice vendor to collaborate at such venues as stadiums and college campuses.

“With this partnership, we have the opportunity to tell stories and connect with people through food on an entirely new level,” Andres said in a release.

The three-year team-up comes shortly after Andres opened a ThinkFoodLab pop-up in Washington, D.C., which will serve as a recipe R&D space for his restaurant group.

ThinkFoodGroup was this year named a Power 20 multiconcept operator by Restaurant...

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