Sunday, August 26, 2007

Culinary camp redux

As I sit here planning activities for the last week of camp, I looked through the pictures of 10 days worth of cooking with a group of kids aged from seven to nine. I continue to be amazed at their enthusiasm and interest. And not only do they get to make things, but they get to eat what they have made. Last week on bean day, we made lentil soup with carrots. We cut off the tops of the carrots and set them to sprout in water. Just so that everyone could keep track of his or her personal carrot, we made a little name flag on a toothpick, which we stuck into the flesh of the carrot. By Friday campers could take home carrots which had green feathers of leaves beginning to leaf out. We also soaked beans overnight to allow our beans to sprout. They were just emerging on Friday to go home with the campers.

Also during the week we visited the Homebase of Emeril Lagasse and had a tour of the test kitchen. We learned all about basil there. And on Friday we made pasta! We ate pasta with pesto to finish the week with yet another taste of basil. I look forward to this coming week. Who knows what we may discover?

Many thanks to the Emeril Lagasse Foundation and to Aqua2Go.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

ye olde college inn

Ye Olde College Inn was packed last night and thank goodness since they donated 20% of their sales to the museum. I know my belly is full of their delicious onion rings. Owner Johnny Blanchard was so pleased he suggested we do it again in the next few months. We'll keep you posted and thanks to all who came and made last night so successful. More good news: Restaurant Restorative got a nice write-up in the Chicago Sun Times. Check out this link,FOO-News-katrina22.article.

Be sure to let any of your Chicago friends know about the exhibit and encourage them to go see it.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Town Hall

So I just got back from a cool and breezy trip in San Francisco and one of the highlights of my visit was my dinner at Town Hall. Owner and chef Mitch Rosenthal is an East Coast native who has cooked all over, but one of his favorite experiences was when he got the opportunity back in the 80's to cook with Paul Prudhomme. It was that experience and his love of Louisiana cooking that have shaped his menu that, though grounded in West Coast seafood, is peppered with Louisiana dishes and ingredients. Tuna tartare with fried green tomatoes and BBQ shrimp are served up alongside hamachi and halibut. Mitch's enthusiasm for New Orleans is not only seen in his menu. Every year, he and his staff hold a huge Mardi Gras party, inviting locals to a taste of Big Easy fun. In the past, the event has raised funds for a local charity, but this year, to our delight, he has offered to donate the proceeds to the museum. In addition, he has offered space in the restaurant to house the Restaurant Restorative exhibit. As soon as the dates get sorted out, we'll let all Bay Area residents know when they can visit this amazing restaurant and see the exhibit. In the meantime, if you are in SF, give Town Hall a try.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Culinary Camp

27 kids and I learned about peanuts today. After talking about this New World food, singing peanut songs, and tasting raw and roasted peanuts we made peanut butter. Kids are so great. After they told me that they hated whole wheat bread and that they would only eat sweetened peanut butter, they made sandwiches from the peanut butter that we had all made (shelling 2 pounds of peanuts) and thought that it was the best thing ever. I hope we find that this is true throughout the week. Tomorrow we learn about tomatoes. The rest of the week offers bananas, watermelon, and peppers. Next week (this week is fruits and vegetables week) we'll be eating heritage foods. Kids will eat good food. They aren't wedded to junk. We just give them messages of low expectations.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Opening in Chicago

I am very excited about the opening of Restaurant/Restorative, our traveling exhibit, in Chicago. The exhibit is at Kendall College and tells the story of the recovery of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina through the reopening of restaurants.

Also about to happen is the Culinary Camp we are initiating with the Ogden Museum of Southern Art. This camp is a prototype. We hope that after we complete the camp we will be able to develop after school and school activities on an on-going basis, develop a teacher manual, and make eating nutritious food important to children. This is a bit ambitious, but we think it is important.

Check out our web site for the other fun activities that are planned, including the dining out at Ye Olde College Inn and the Invitation to the Memphis Table.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Natchez Food and Wine Festival

As a quick snapshot of a town, a Food and Wine Festival is always a treat. The Festival in Natchez is no exception. Area restaurants participated in a contest voted on by the visitors. That meant that each restaurant was putting on its best face. The wines were in competition also, which made for a great opportunity for tasting. And my favorite part is the local culinary businesses that support the event, letting me see the variety of businesses operating in the area. I loved it.

I collected menus - my compulsion - and tasted and talked. This event benefits a scholarship fund for culinary students from the Copiah-Lincoln Community College in Natchez. The terrific idea is to send a graduate of the Co-Lin program on for further education and training. They return to Natchez better chefs with a breadth of experience.

I am also looking forward to our culinary camp, which starts in a week. And we are working up to Invitation to the Memphis Table in September.