Taste and learn

Joined Aug 29, 2000
On May 31 I had the great pleasure of taking 13 middle school kids to spend 90 minutes with Chef Eric Rupert at Through the Seasons Cooking School at L'Etoile in Madison, Wisconsin. Chef Rupert planned a tasting "menu" for the kids which had them captivated. L'Etoile, you may know, is owned by Chef Odessa Piper, an advocate of fresh, seasonal, regional food.

Chef Rupert demonstrated, but he also involved the students in some of the prep work- grating cheese, snapping asparagus, etc. He offered them roasted asparagus and quesadillas with fresh roasted corn and tomato salsa. The idea was to take familiar flavors (ex: grilled cheese) and show them how easy it is to make something wonderful with fresh, easily available ingredients.

Sorry to pun, but they ate it up! Even those who swore they hated asparagus, tasted it and some will eat it again if it's not the canned mush they were expecting. They got a kick out of the corn roasting on the gas cooktop grates, and wolfed down the salsa. One girl was able to isolate the flavor of cilentro. After a thoughtful taste, decided she didn't like the herb, but would make the salsa without it.

It was wonderful to see them explore new flavors and properly prepared foods they thought they would never eat. My great appreciation to Chef Rupert, Chef Piper and to our very own Suzanne for helping me connect with L'Etoile.
Joined Jan 5, 2001
Mezz, that's wonderful!

There's nothing like watching kids develop their taste buds...
Joined Aug 11, 2000
Mezz that is great! I have wanted to see how Odessa stores seasonal produce for the Wisconsin winter.
Joined May 26, 2001
Aw, thanks, but you did all the heavy lifting! What a great report!

I heard a presentation by Odessa a couple of years ago. Wow! What an inspiration to all of us! She said that she "puts by" a lot of stuff in season so as to have it available out of. Freezing, drying, and so on -- whichever method will preserve the flavor best. Her food cost percentage looks weird at times, but on an annual basis it evens out. My one regret about Wisconsin is that I left a few years before she started :( .
Joined Jul 24, 2001
This idea of yours Mez was a great one!!!!!!!!
I imagine their excitement after the visit.

Will they have to write a report afterwards? If we get a new visit for students will know who is responsible LOL LOL
Joined Aug 29, 2000
You bet I did, Momo! I'm angling for a day at L'Etoile's cooking school with Chef Rupert for my next birthday present. :bounce: :bounce: :bounce:
Joined Nov 29, 2001
Kids are so interesting as they learn to taste new stuff. They do hold grudges, however. For instance, if a kid tastes something green and doesn't like it, they won't go near anything green for years, no matter how one taste diversifies from the next. I've found this phenomenon primarily in the really early years - like 3-6 y/o.

For instance, daughter was one of the few kids I knew who at 5 would eat romaine lettuce. Other kids whose parents bought iceberg lettuce thought my salad tasted like "leaves." (From trees, that is.) Daughter tried an artichoke (at about 10) and her face nearly turned inside out - but the kid will eat asparagus.

One day: Tomatoes wonderful.
Next day: Tomatoes suck.

Ah, childhood. :rolleyes:


Joined Apr 4, 2000
That's fantastic Mezz. Just goes to proove that kids can appreciate food that doesn't come from a box.
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