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A lunchtime education…

January 29, 2011

Charlene Badman and Pavle Milic took their culinary expertise and passion for eating well to school today.  Over five hundred children enjoyed something most adults would love, they were served a meal from critically lauded FnB Restaurant.

After hearing the lunch options at Arcadia Neighborhood Learning Center, Charlene decided to show the students what good eating is all about.   First she taught cooking classes to the third and fourth grade students, using the herbs from one of the school’s gardens. But then she decided to go bigger and planned a meal for all of the students using fresh ingredients, including bread from MJ Breads, Schreiner’s sausages, and produce from the farm.

Her menu included a fresh salad bar with a lemon vinaigrette, handmade butter to go with the wonderful crusty bread and focaccia, a kid-friendly beanies and weenies dish, roasted cauliflower with a béchamel sauce, and, one of my favorites from FnB, roasted jidori chicken.   These are some lucky kids indeed!

Marsha and I came along to lend our support and to see for ourselves the reaction from the students to this extraordinary lunchtime fare.  This was an all-hands on deck moment, and we quickly pitched in and manned the salad bar.  The salad bar was a new feature for the school and it was stocked with fresh greens, mini cucumbers, chopped tomatoes, multi-colored carrots and watermelon radishes.

For two and a half hours we had a steady stream of K-8 students pass by, all eager and excited for this special meal.  I have never seen anything like it.  I would easily guess that over ninety percent of the students asked for salad, even from the youngest kids in their soft voices.  They were curious about the watermelon radishes and the purple carrots, and while a few took a pass on trying something new, most were more than willing to try one when I offered.  I even challenged one too-cool-for-school pre-teen boy to try a radish, after he had turned up his nose.  He did and then asked for more.  I ended up serving them to all of his friends who were taking his lead. We had several return for seconds.  The mother in me was also so tickled to hear an on-going polite chorus all morning of “pleases” and “thank yous”.

I was cracking up listening to Pavle next to me offering up the bread and butter, arguing that the best part of the bread is in the crunchy floured crust (it is), while simultaneously showing the students the Romanesco cauliflower Marsha brought to display on the table.  There were endless questions and curiosity over that cauliflower.  Pavle’s charm resonated in the school cafeteria, just as it does with his patrons at the restaurant.

Charlene manned the entrees.  Her jidori chicken was a huge hit.  I am sure that there would be many parents thrilled to see their little ones eagerly asking to try a dish with three kinds of cauliflower.  Charlene had roasted cheddar (orange), graffiti (purple) and white cauliflower together with a sprinkling of bread crumbs and a savory béchamel sauce.

Charlene and Pavle’s generosity was so enthusiastically met.  Teachers had commented that they had never seen their students so excited for lunch, nor had they seen that many kids in line for the lunch the school was serving. Students and teachers alike asked if they could eat like this everyday.  I do hope that meals like this could soon be a reality, not only for the students of Arcadia Neighborhood Learning Center, but all schools.

Bravo Charlene and Pavle!  I know that your work today fed the students much more than just lunch.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Nan Wilkinson permalink
    January 30, 2011 8:11 pm

    It was by far an amazing experience. Every child raved about their lunch. They behaved as if they were in a restaurant and actually savored their food. That afternoon, the students continued talking about the “awesome lunch” and with everyone’s belly full, it was a fabulous afternoon.

    I am so grateful for the countless people who worked to put on this lunch. It was so well orchestrated, enjoyable and the best meal I’ve had in quite some time. I too agree the caulilower was delicious as well as the rest of the meal.

    Most importantly, students learned that healthy eating is possible and not everything has to be pre-packaged and processed. I hope we will take further lessons from this experience.

    With sincere, appreciation, thank you and we look forward to this being the beginning of a beautiful friendship!

  2. January 27, 2013 7:23 am

    If only students and teachers could eat that way every day. Have such respect, admiration, and love for these two. So honored to be working with them now, and look forward to being part of a future ANLC lunch & learning program!


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