Extending sphere of influence to food service professionals

October 11, 2016

By Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator

Most people never know how far the Food Bank of Delaware’s influence extends.

On Oct. 10, designated as Columbus Day, the Food Bank’s Executive Chef Tim Hunter taught a Professional Development Day workshop for Milford School District’s food service employees.

img_1401Since one in five Delaware children live in poverty, the meals kids eat in school are often the major source of food; 90.5 percent of our clients have children who participate in the free or reduced-price school lunch program.

Milford’s Child Nutrition Supervisor Sharon Forrest invited Chef Tim to present a cook’s refresher lesson.

“It gives exposure to other cooks and teaches culinary skills,” she said.

With the food service workers circling around the cooking station, Chef Tim offered a few tips on preparing a cafeteria staple, Sloppy Joes. He started with a “mise en place.” That’s a French culinary term that means to have everything in place and to be prepared, including having an attitude of readiness.

Chef Tim also uses “mire poix” (a sautéed mix of onions, celery, and carrots) to start stocks, the basis for soups and img_1402sauces,” in our Culinary School kitchens.

“Make sure you have everything ready. That’s the fastest way,” he advised, as he chopped onions.

He suggested the food service cooks sauté the onions before they add the beef.

“Caramelize the onions first because this beef can be a little bitter.”

He also noted that timing the preparation to add tomato sauce and bringing it to a simmer can free up time for the staff to take care of other tasks.

Ms. Forrest had some questions for our chef: how would he cook the wheat pasta and how to thicken the sauce for macaroni and cheese.

Chef Tim offered some useful tips to prevent the pasta from getting mushy and other tips for thickening the sauce since schools are required to follow a recipe using skim milk.

Another question concerned maintaining the color of carrots and broccoli when added to the stir-fry beef lunch.

“Blanch them separately,” suggested Chef Tim. “Even kids still eat with their eyes.”

Later in the morning, the Milford food service team visited the Food Bank’s Milford branch and enjoyed lunch prepared by the culinary students.

For more information on the Food Bank of Delaware, visit www.fbd.org.

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