Sunday, May 1, 2016

Jamie's Food Revolution Day at Northview Heights...

I had the most enjoyable experience last week on an invite to tour with Northview Heights Secondary School's Culinary Department students at Durham College's new Centre for Food (CFF). This incredible new learning centre provides access to a full-service green certified teaching restaurant and lounge (Bistro '67); a demonstration theatre; and state-of-the-art labs, classrooms and meeting spaces, as well as adopting the field-to-fork concept to offer the best possible learning experience. As celebrity chef Jamie Kennedy, CFF's ambassador bringing field-to-fork expertise to the table in support of student education says, "Canada is becoming a real hub for creating culinary uniqueness using fresh ingredients from local farms and Durham College is a leader in this movement." After my amazing visit, I couldn't agree more that it offers a bright future ahead for both the students and the Ontario food industry!

With Chef Dimitra K. heading the Culinary Dept. at Northview Heights

But before I get into the ins and outs of our visit, I must talk about how the tour came about. How much do I love and respect this woman Chef Dimitra K.- the driving force at Northview Heights Secondary School's Culinary Department. She is passionate about opening her students to consider other post-secondary schools not as present amongst our Toronto city core of popular culinary colleges, which is super commendable! Durham College is beyond a dream culinary learning centre! Teaching kids cooking and life skills at Northview, making everything from scratch right down to pastry and ketchup, their culinary program is a poster child for everything Food Revolution stands for (they held my last year's massive event of 1500 participants with Jamie Oliver joining in via video-conf). Passionate support again for FRD2016! Their 400 enrolled grades 10 to 12 students (up from 200 last year) along with teachers, program assistants and student volunteers cook everything from scratch every day to make the lunch meals served in the school cafeteria — up to 1500 students! And their culinary program is hands-down amazing with a frequently updated student food blog to showcase all the great work! You rock B.I.G Time D!

For Food Revolution Day May 20th, students will cook up their variation on Jamie's ten recipes which has been defined as the “Starter Pack of Cooking”, each covering a different skill and technique that can give anyone the confidence to cook good, real, healthy meals for themselves and their families, for now and the future. Jamie has spoken about the idea of ten recipes to save your life since his TED talk in 2010. The department will be taking photos and videos of students in action and sharing them on social media; these recipes will also be incorporated into their ongoing class curriculum. A selection of Jamie's key recipes will be made and served in the cafeteria for breakfast and/or lunch to celebrate the day!

With Chef Dimitra K. heading the Culinary Dept. at Northview Heights. 
Showing off the proud students' prepared jerk chicken and meat tourtière 
that staff could purchase with funds going back in to support the program! 

Student fresh ready-made food vaccum sealed and frozen for easy heat & serve meals.

In-house sprouts are grown right in Northview's classroom and used in food preparation. Students prepare chicken and vegetable patties Jamaican-style and savoury phyllo triangles get ready for the bake!

Patties Photo Credit: Chef Dimitra Konstantakou

Chef Dimitra K. shares with me that waste management is an important part of her day-to-day operations. Food waste has been a prevalent issue I have been passionate about. Aside from using up leftovers in their culinary activities, and minimizing waste at the output, they also support "food rescue" at the front end. Sourcing "ugly", "wonky" and imperfect produce (which are often wasted throughout the food system) at a lower cost from their supplier, they turn these perfectly edible foods into deliciousness. For example ugly figs that can't sell at retail are turned into jam, preserves and sauce!

This year, Oakville's Canadian Culinary Federation (CCF) has mandated students to get in the kitchen by supporting the Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) in Hospitality and Tourism offered at Northview. Some highlights include three course credits: one English, one math and one credit of either science, geography (tourism) or business studies tailored to focus on hospitality and tourism; two cooperative education credits to gain workplace experience,   and six free Certifications and training programs/courses in first aid, CPR, hazardous materials (WHMIS), customer service, basic tourism service and food handlers certification​.

This visual chart is an example of a student exercise to highlight the daily meal and snack requirements that would meet the various diet a person may have. For example, if you are creating a menu plan for an athlete, what would their plate look like for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and in-between snack(s) regime that would balance their food groups and nutrition needs for the day or the week.

The Centre for Food (CFF) is inspired by Durham College's commitment to bring field to fork--  the vision of bringing locally sourced, quality produce from field to table, to Durham Region. Among its many outstanding features, the CFF offers a greenhouse, which includes multi-laboratory classes to teach students how to grow plants and produce throughout the year, and a 200-tree apple orchard featuring five varieties of apple trees.

The upcoming plan for on-campus extensive farming and horticulture space

CFF's Greenhouse

Chef Peter Lee, head of the Durham College's Culinary Department lead the day with one of Northview's culinary program class of 26 students. The kids will be cooking for an hour and half and having the goods for lunch- Chicken Four ways: Indian Biryani, Sweet & Sour and Greek-style served over rice, and Fried Chicken and Pancakes.

An impressive two-storey green living wall in the front foyer grows fresh herbs for use in the culinary labs and kitchens. Not only is it beautiful to look at, it also acts as an active biofilter removing up to 90% of the toxins from indoor air-- cleansing the air and reducing energy costs to pay for itself. 

A display of artful sugar sculptures created by third year advanced baking and pastry students!

Getting a raw whole chicken cutting lesson by Chef Lee before students are divided into four teams to cook their chicken recipes. 

The open-concept bright kitchen is equipped with state-of-the-art industrial culinary wares and the latest technology. Chef Lee told us they had a large budget, and they went crazy suping it up with the best of the best--- like a kid in a candy store! I bet! The kitchen is absolutely stunning!

Public view into the main kitchen from the foyer.

With Justin Myles (runner up Chopped Canada Season One) and Chef Dimitra K.

 Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) in Hospitality and Tourism

Team One: Preparations for Indian Biryani Chicken

Indian Biryani Chicken

Team Two: Preparations for Greek-Style Chicken

Greek-Style Chicken

Team Three: Preparations for Chinese Sweet and Sour Chicken

Chinese Sweet and Sour Chicken

Team Four: Preparations for Fried Chicken and Pancakes

Fried Chicken and Pancakes

The students worked so well in teams, with everyone pitching in and dividing tasks! 
I along with Chef Dimitra K, Chef Myles and Chef Lee were super impressed. Well done!

Clockwise top left: Chicken Four Ways-- Indian Biryani, Greek-Style,
Fried Chicken and Pancakes and Sweet and Sour Chicken

Named in honour of the year Durham College first opened-- 1967- Bistro '67 reflects the college's rich history while providing a fresh, modern perspective. Open to the public, the restaurant serves lunch and dinner in an atmosphere that combines stylish, modern looks with rustic, earthy charm. The menu, which revolves around the field-to-fork concept, features produce and delicious flavours plated, picked and produced by students at the CFF as well as farmers from across Durham Region. 

Observing Bistro '67 chefs cookin' up a storm from their special event's private dining room.

Pantry is a unique retail food store at the CFF that offers a delicious variety of goods prepared by students in CFF's culinary and baking programs including muffins, pastries and breads, meals-to-go, packaged soups and sauces, and pickled and preserved items.

On-site grown pansies beautify these strawberry lollies!

Digging in finally, but not without first some well-deserved food paparazzi shots!

As I work towards Food Revolution 2016, I can't help but reflect on my big & busy event last year at Northview Heights cooking up Jamie's sandwich with the entire school body-- 1500 participants... And my brief video-encounter with Mr. Oliver himself in London! Although this year is no where nearly as intense, it will certainly be a fun and creative hands-on Food Rev day with the school's culinary students. I look forward to see them cooking up their variation and spin on Jamie's ten recipes which has been defined as the “Starter Pack of Cooking”. Sign up on his soon-to-be-launched site (May 9th) for the recipes and more.

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