School Lunch - A Learning Experience
FarmPlate Jun 04, 2010 The Beat 0 comments
When pizza is on the menu at the Burr and Burton Academy, the lunch cooks don't just reach for a couple of #10 cans of prepared pizza sauce. No way. The red sauce at B and B is house-made with slow-cooked onions and plenty of fresh herbs and garlic. Even though this is a high-volume high school cafeteria, chef/manager Charlie Robbins and his student assistants would never think of cutting corners.
For 17 years, Chef Robbins has been making sure that students and staff at this Manchester, Vermont, school can enjoy real food at lunchtime. "We keep processed foods to a minimum here," says Robbins. "The soups are made from scratch: carrot/ginger bisque and Southwest chicken tortilla are two favorites. The breads and pastas are whole grain. The salad bar is a big thing too, and it includes some lettuce from our own garden."
Along with overseeing the food service operation, Robbins teaches the school's culinary arts course. The students in his class assist in the daily operation of the cafeteria kitchen and at special events. They learn how to create delicious, nutritionally sound menus that meet or exceed USDA standards. They also learn lessons in food safety, kitchen management and even gardening. "There's an on-site vegetable garden that our service learning coordinator Lani Lovisa oversees," says Robbins. "The kids are building a shed and vegetable production beds on campus. They had their own sugaring operation this year, too."
There's a strong emphasis on environmentally sound practices in the Burr and Burton kitchen. Two composting systems for food waste are in place. There's no tin foil used, only biodegradable plastics for wrapping and storage. Food is served on ceramic, not paper, plates.
Robbins reflected on his 30 years in the food business. "When I started out working in restaurants, food was simply a form of entertainment that, frankly, made people eat too much and drink too much. Working with kids is so much more satisfying. I'm doing a lot of good here; they're doing a lot of good. I love it!"
Burr and Burton Academy is an independent high school that serves 700 students from Peru, Manchester, Dorset, Sunderland and other nearby towns that have no public high school. The school also welcomes more than 50 residential students from overseas.
from Chef Charlie Robbins, Burr and Burton Academy
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter
1 pound asparagus spears, trimmed and chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 shallot, chopped
2½ quarts chicken stock, heated
½ cup flour
½ cup sherry (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 cup heavy cream
Melt the butter in a large soup pot over medium heat. Cook the asparagus, carrots, onions and shallots in butter until softened. Sprinkle the flour on top, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes. Pour in the hot chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. Puree the bisque using a pureeing rod or food processor. If desired, strain the soup back into the pot. Gently reheat the soup. Add the sherry, if using, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring almost to a simmer the whisk in the cream.
Serves 8 to 10
Burr & Burton Academy • 57 Seminary Ave, Manchester, VT 05254 • 802.362.1775
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