On April 5th, Chartwells School Dining Services and Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools (CHCCS) welcomed Rex Hospital Executive Chef and food blogger Ryan Conklin to its kitchen to help lead a culinary training course for the district’s Child Nutrition employees.
Designed to improve basic cooking skills for district employees, the “Home Base Cooking” culinary training course was designed to increase enthusiasm about cooking with the hopes that this passion and new found knowledge will be passed down to students, their families, colleagues and the community. An emphasis was also placed on training the staff in nutrition education, seasonality and sustainability.
The program gave Child Nutrition staff a better understanding of the intent of the new federal regulations regarding the National School Lunch Program and the preparation techniques for the new foods finding their way onto the menus.
“Home Base Cooking has been an amazing program that instills a sense of empowerment within our staff,” says CHCCS Executive Chef Ryan McGuire. “We share ideas and listen to what the staff thinks we should work on and what foods should be implemented in the school. It is great to see how proud and excited crew members are when offering samples of something they made to our students.”
Establishing local partnerships has been extremely effective in helping Chartwells improve the Child Nutrition program for the District. “Home Base Cooking” was co-created with the help of Chef/Dietitian Breana Lai, RD, who began collaborating with Chartwells and McGuire after volunteering with “Share Our Strengths: Cooking Matters,” another Chartwells’ community culinary education program that is coordinated at a local elementary school.
In addition to collaboration with Lai, Chartwells is able to coordinate “Home Base Cooking” training with the support of the local Weaver Street Market, Chef Ben Barker from the Magnolia Grill restaurant and Rex Hospital.