Monday, September 27, 2010

Composting, Finally!

Last April, I blogged about how my kitchen is spearheading our school’s composting program using Save That Stuff, a Boston-based waste management company.  Middle and upper schoolers “practiced” composting by separating compostable from trash during lunch, but the program didn’t take off because there was no supervision to make sure waste was going in the appropriate bins. 

We’re at it again, and I’m happy to report that we’re getting ready to send our first food waste to the composting facility this upcoming week.  This new year I was prepared with all the necessary tools to make it a success:  I made announcements to students and staff, sent out an informational email about composting, and recruited teacher volunteers to watch the bins during lunch time. 

Our composting bins in our cafeteria are lined with compostable bags, a necessary requirement to compost with Save that Stuff.  Composting isn’t cheap:  each bag costs about sixty-five cents, and the minimum cost to come pick up our compostable waste is $20.  However, trash pick-up in general is pretty expensive.  If our school is paying good money for trash removal, I’m glad that the cost is going towards compost rather than a landfill. 
Our very first bag of compost! 

As of now, our composting program doesn’t affect the work in my kitchen whatsoever.  Teacher watch the bins, and our maintenance department cares for the contents of the compost bins.  However, very shortly, kitchen food scraps such as cucumber peels, tomato stems and freezer burned food, will go into the compost bin too. 

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Recruiting for the School Food Revolution: Hiring a Cook

I'm looking to hire for a new cook position in my school kitchen.  This might be the most important decision I make in terms of helping me improve the school menu, so I'm very excited.  Here's the ad I placed:

Part-time cook: Be Part of the School Food Revolution
Our private school is looking to improve school lunch and needs a part-time cook to help with that process.  If you watched Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution and/or are interested in being part of the new school food movement, this is your chance. We’re looking for a recent culinary school grad or someone with a couple of years of restaurant experience. So, some professional kitchen experience is necessary but we’re willing to train the right person. We’re looking for a cook that is professional, has good communication skills, and is flexible with duties. Day to day work will vary depending on the menu and our in-house catering needs. For example, one day might be spent slicing and prepping chicken sausages and peppers for a lunch of whole grain pasta with sausage and peppers sauce, working on a catering event, performing inventory duties, and helping out with our salad bar. Each day is different.

I’ve gotten quite a variety of resumes, including a school kitchen veteran, a home cook passionate about improving the state of school lunch, and someone with a Masters degree in Food and Agriculture wanting real-world experience.  I’ve already scheduled a few interviews for Monday.   

Monday, September 20, 2010


The City of Boston is holding a food truck contest for interesting, local, and sustainable food concepts.  The prize is a spot for a truck to sell on City Hall during lunchtime next spring.  I had to enter because I love food trucks and the scope of the contest is right up my alley.  I came up with BON ME, a truck serving the following: Vietnamese-inspired sandwiches, noodles, and rice bowls; Massachusetts-grown vegetable side dishes; homemade drinks, all served in bio-based containers.  Working in a school kitchen certainly helps me with this contest.  Everything I know about local produce and environmentally-friendly containers comes from working in my school kitchen. J

BON ME is currently a semi-finalist in this contest!  To determine the finalists, Boston is holding an online vote that is taking place right now thru Friday.  So, PLEASE, vote for my food truck, BON ME!  Thanks!!   

To vote, go to the following website, scroll to the bottom of the page, and click "Vote Now."

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Brave New Lunch is Back in Business

So many exciting things are happening in my school kitchen right now that I can’t wait to blog about!  I intended on starting up earlier but have been slammed at work.  The kitchen crew is down two members.  The five of us here are working extra hard, especially because we’re going full force into changing the menu with new and healthy offerings.

Here are some things we’ve done so far: 
-We served watermelon for dessert last Thursday for the first time at my school.  It was a hit!  
-We now use a delicious tomato sauce made with pronounceable ingredients, including carrot puree.   Really tasty AND healthy.  
-We replaced our white baguettes with cracked wheat baguettes for sandwiches.  There was one first grader who was quite upset because she "only likes white bread."  She will eventually get used to our brown bread.    

TOMORROW: I’m going to post about what I’ve been working on over the summer and ask for some help from you readers;)