I’ve been wanting to start a blog for awhile, but have been unclear as to what direction to take. So, I decided that some action was better than no action and to just start. I’m hoping that the direction I need to go in will show itself in time.
Yesterday, I was fortunate enough to have an amazing afternoon at Johnson and Wales. I was invited to take a tour of their edible gardens, their kitchens and have lunch. Being that I teach at Heron Heights Elementary and we are a green school, this seemed like a perfect match. While touring the gardens, I had visions of Johnson and Wales students coming to our school to assist with our gardens. And that vision will more than likely become a reality, thanks to this tour.
I was with Carlos (@socialmediaputo) and Emily (@emilyontheave) for this tour. We saw wild coffee, hearts of palm, lemongrass and guava growing wild. We all tried tamarind (which was SOUR) and Emily tried a starfruit right off the tree.
After our tour around the campus, we went to the dining room for an amazing lunch. We started with a gazpacho appetizer, which was delicious. This is coming from someone who’s not a huge fan of tomatoes. Lunch was seared scallops with a lemongrass sauce, Peruvian pan fried potatoes (they were purple!) and corn succotash. The only complaint I had was I wish there was more it was so incredible! Dessert was a cheese souffle with a port reduction sauce and macadamia nuts.
When we finished our scrumptious lunch, followed by a conversation about couponing with one of the chefs, we took a tour of the kitchens. The kitchens are outfitted with commercial grade equipment like students will use when they graduate. They are also cooking with only the finest ingredients. As a teacher, I thought this was fabulous. There’s no use in learning how to cook on equipment that won’t be used in practical situations.
Johnson and Wales is very committed to saving the environment and it shows in everything they do. Chef told us they went from plastic tasting spoons (to the tune of 400,000 – 500,000) a year to using stainless steel spoons. Instead of using plastic cups and lids for prep work, they now use glass cups with metal lids. In addition to these changes saving money on purchasing non-renewable supplies over and over they save money on garbage pick up, reducing their pick up significantly. They are also working on a way to compost on campus and use that as fertilizer for the gardens.
Chef also showed us why cooking with induction cook tops is far superior to gas. In addition to being faster (they cut cooking time in half), they use much less energy. The induction only heats what’s in the pot or pan, not the pot or pan itself or the area around it. While initial costs are higher, the savings in energy add up quickly.
This was a wonderful experience and I can’t wait to make the connection with this university and our school.