Focus in on the delights of the kitchen and the table with ...

On Tuesday, June 1, I was lucky enough to join a garden-and-kitchen celebration in Austin, Texas, where students from University of Texas Elementary School starred in a culinary marathon honoring their year of gardening and cooking and learning about the pleasures of the kitchen and the table. The Hands-On Garden-To-Table Workshop was a movable feast, beginning with an assembly at UT Elementary School, moving out to the fantastic vibrant garden the students had planted on campus, then onto busses from UTES to Austin’s flagship Whole Foods Market’s Culinary Center, where the kids washed, peeled, chopped, sauteed, stirred and cooked up a gorgeous and delicious meal with an assist or two from Whole Foods’  kitchen crew and a bevy of members of the International Association of Culinary Professionals, in Austin for our annual conference in the Texas sunshine. IACP member (and chair of the conference’s Host Committee) Toni Tipton Martin, food writer, cooking teacher and culinary historian based in Austin, traveled to Washington DC last June for “Chefs Move to the White House”, where hundreds of chefs and food people toured the White House garden and accepted First Lady Michelle Obama’s challenge to get moving into schools and help America’s kids “…fall in love with food.” My good friend Toni listened well and came back to Austin with a plan; this day was ‘graduation’ for UTES’ Garden to Table program, only way more more fun than the word “graduation” would suggest. I still remember the excitement of arriving at UTES, a wonderful school bustling with teachers, staff, students and their proud family members, members of the press with cameras and notepads, fellow members of IACP’s Kids in the Kitchen team, and Guest of Honor Bill Yosses, White House Pastry Chef, who traveled to Austin from Washington, DC, to bring greetings from First Lady Michelle Obama, meet and cook with the Garden to Table students, and give them a message:  “You are important!”, he told smiling rows of kids in carrot-colored UTES Longhorn tee-shirts. “When you grow food and cook it, you are part of something happening everywhere in the world.”  This post is the second of three — I’d planned on two, but just as once you start cooking, you end up with more wonderful food than you’d planned to create, I’ve got abundant photos, and I’m going to let these tell you the next chunk of the story, and finish up with, well, dessert, in my third post. Meanwhile, enjoy!

About the Author
Nancie McDermott is a food writer and cooking teacher, and the author of ten cookbooks. Her passion is researching and celebrating traditional food in its cultural context, and her beloved subjects are two seemingly different places with much in common: the cuisines of Asia and of the American South. Nancie gained her Southern kitchen wisdom as a Piedmont North Carolina native,and her Asian culinary research commenced soon after college, when she was sent to northeastern Thailand as a Peace Corps volunteer.
  1. Marge Perry Reply

    Thank you so much for reporting on this. It is such an important movement, with long term consequences for our children’s health and development, as well as our country’s economy and ecology Looking forward to the third installment– and more of these great, heart-warming photos!

  2. mazzymoon Reply

    Wish I could have been there. Thank you so much for your commitment and time. Appreciate the report and the pictures 🙂

    • Nancie McDermott Reply

      So glad you enjoy ‘attending’ through my blog posts. I’m still taking it all in. Looking forward to going back through notes and putting names into the photos as much as I can. I’ll do a Facebook album for that. See you at IACP in NYC next spring?

  3. Nancie McDermott Reply

    What a wonderful message, my pleasure to report back on a marvelous day. I adore still photos — going back and looking at everything in the background as well as the subject of the shot. Being there was a treat, but in the moment I missed things which I see now: the family member framing a photo through the window of the action in the prep kitchen, the four IACP members (Sheila/Laura/Ameila/Doug) in the intro photo, doing ‘synchronized swimming’ in service to the cooking kids. I’m still jazzed from it all.

  4. Pingback: My Day of “My Plate” | The Daily Dish

    • Nancie McDermott Reply

      Honored and tickled that The Daily Dish included my two IACP Kids in the Kitchen “Garden to Table” events in her current post about Chefs Move to Schools and the new ‘plate’ icon. Go check out her post above #5, look at her cool pix of her day of plates, and then click some pictures of your daily plates.

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