Chef John Folse visits Paulina school

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 10, 2004

By VICKIE JAMBON, Staff Reporter

PAULINA – A “Great Nutrition Adventure,” featuring Chef John Folse was held at Paulina Elementary School Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The event bolstered nutrition awareness for the school and offered business opportunity for the chef.

Students, parents, vendors, educators and nutritionalists were among many who showed up to hear Chef Folse speak. They sat and enjoyed food prepared by Paulina Elementary cafeteria staff, tasted food wares offered by nutritional vendors, received numerous door prizes handed out intermittently and visited booths demonstrating preparations for various natural food items.

World famous culinary expert John Folse watched the cooks as they prepared white beans, jambalaya, beets, home-made whole wheat rolls, and beets. He taught the cafeteria staff techniques for low-fat cooking and for cooking with herbs and spices.

Lydia White, Child Nutrition Program Supervisor for St. James Parish, said the main focus of the event was to teach pre-K through sixth-grade students, along with their parents, important facts pertaining to nutrition and activity.

“I asked Chef Folse to come out and to talk to the children and their parents about nutrition. I also wanted him to give the school cafeteria staff tips on how to cook school lunches with less fat,” said White.

The child nutrition supervisor said the school wants to put the word out that they follow food guidelines mandated by the U.S.D.A. and the Louisiana Department of Education’s Division of Nutrition Assistance. She said the state department stipulates calories, sodium, vitamin and nutritional content that must be present in a child’s school lunch.

“We are involved with a “Five-A-Day-Challenge,” said White. She said the effort

supports the American Heart Association’s quest to include five fruits and vegetables in your daily food allowance.

The event had a two-fold purpose for Chef Folse. He was not only there to supervise the cafeteria workers and to offer advise. He was also there on a potential business venture.

Corporate Executive Chef and Director of Resources and Development Jay Kimball said he and Folse were there to show cooks how to prepare meals using less fat and sodium while still retaining the flavor and character of the dish. “We wanted to introduce ways of producing bacon fat flavors without using bacon fat,” said Kimball.

As a research director for Chef Folse’s kitchen, Kimball checked to see what foods are being supplied to the school through commodities and how the cooks are preparing these foods being supplied.

We want to cook the same foods the school workers are cooking and sell a finished product to the school, said Kimball.

He added, “We want to bring commodity foods into our manufacturing plant, remodify the food and then resupply these foods to the schools. This will save the cooks time. Because we plan on providing cooked foods to all the schools in the state, we can cook in bulk thus providing meals at a cost that is competitive with commodity foods.”

The food will be healthier and tastier and it will save cafeteria workers a lot of time. This will make our products cost effective, said Kimball.

Chef Folse’s plans do not stop here. Once the team of chefs find foods most liked by school students, they plan to sell these pre-cooked school meals in supermarkets. “This way students can eat the same foods they eat all school year during the summer months,” said Kimball.