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Culinary Institute

Local School Nutrition Professionals Participate in K-12 Culinary Institute

School nutrition managers from across the state are involved in in the North Carolina K-12 Culinary Institute workshops throughout this summer. School nutrition managers representing six school districts came to First Flight High School from June 28-30 to participate in the local K-12 Culinary Institute regional workshop. The N.C. K-12 Culinary Institute, designed to enhance nutrition offerings, is funded by a U.S. Department of Agriculture Professional Standards Training Grant received by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) School Nutrition Section.
Local participants in the first week of North Carolina's K-12 Culinary Institute Workshop, with guest chefs (from left) Susan Thompson, NCDPI; Kelleta Govan, SN Bookkeeper; Brenda Gail McMurran, SN Manager Manteo High; Chef Andy Montero, Chef & Owner Montero's Restaurant; Carol Sykes, SN Director; Donna Hala, SN Manager First Flight Middle; Amber Dodge, SN Manager First Flight High; Diana Virgil, SN Manager First Flight Elementary; Bobbie Crum, SN Manager Manteo Middle, and Chef Cyndie Story. A video was created around the event by Hunt Thomas of Manteo High School, which can be seen on GovEd TV and accessed online by visiting Dare County Schools website.
First Flight High school nutrition manager Amber Dodge and school nutrition Director Carol Sykes have been working since the spring to get organized for the event.  Dare County Schools served as host for the first of sixteen summer workshops.  “The K-12 Culinary Institute is a unique opportunity for our school nutrition leaders to learn more about providing quality, nutritious school meals,” said Carol Sykes, Director for Dare County Schools School Nutrition Program.  Dare County Schools had five school cafeteria managers participate, as well as School Nutrition Bookkeeper Kelleta Govan. “This was the best professional development workshop I’ve ever been associated with,” noted Sykes.  All of the participants are expected to teach it forward to other school nutrition team members.
Chef Andy Montero of Elizabeth City and owner of Montero’s Restaurant served as a chef instructor along with Chef Cyndie Story.  Andy Montero is well known for community service and is available to school nutrition directors to provide additional assistance going forward.  Sykes said, “Chef Andy was a big hit with all the participants.  He is a true community servant, down to earth with lots of great ideas and very approachable”.
The face to face and virtual institute was developed by the NCDPI, School Nutrition Section, and Chef Cyndie Story’s K-12 Culinary Team, in order to meet five core objectives:
  • Improve student health, well-being, and academic success through nutritious, appealing meals at school,
  • Increase participation in high quality, enticing school nutrition programs,
  • Expand capacity of local school nutrition programs to purchase, prepare and serve fresh, locally grown produce,
  • Increase consumption of fruits, vegetables, and whole grain-rich foods, and;
  • Provide continuing education opportunities for school nutrition personnel.
The menus and recipes developed for the K-12 Culinary Institute include:
  • Scratch, convenience, and modified scratch products and techniques,
  • Instructions written for production amounts consistent with pack or pan sizes commonly available in school kitchens, and;
  • Nutritional analysis files for easy import into software programs and adjustments for standardization in Local Education Agencies (LEAs).
Instructional segments included topics such as knife skills, weighing and measuring accurately, preparing foods for just-in-time service, work simplification and scheduling, effective use of equipment, and quality food preparation and service for a variety of meats, grains, fruits, vegetables, and condiments. Participants went back to the school cafeterias with serving pans, kitchen tools, chef’s hats and aprons.
North Carolina K-12 Culinary Institute graduates become chef ambassadors prepared to teach other school nutrition professionals at the Local Education Agency/school level. A video encapsulating the three-day event can be seen on Gov Ed TV and here.