Shake, Shake, Shake… Shake it into Butter

Butter Demo at Castro croppedGoogle chefs Kimberly Tran and Tatiana Contreras led an engaging and interactive demo with the children at Castro Elementary School in Mountain View. Each child was given a small, closed container of whole milk. The kids got to jump up and down, and dance around the room; basically shaking their milk container into butter. There were lots of oohs and ahhs as the children observed their milk transform into cream, and then into butter.

Butter Demo CloseUp croppedBut the best part came at the end of the workshop when the kids tasted the whipped cream with an apple crisp, and enjoyed the butter with fresh bread. Almost everyone asked for seconds. It was a great time for the kids, teachers, and the chefs.

As Chef Kimberly watched the children enjoy the fruits of their shakin’ she commented that it was this same experience, as a child, that led her to become a chef!

Learn more about the science behind making butter.

The Physical Properties of Food

Chef Bastide Demo croppedChef David Bastide from Left Bank San Jose paid a visit to Mistral Elementary school in Mountain View today. He immediately engaged the kids in a science experiment with eggs. Place a hard-boiled egg on top of a bottle and heat the bottom of the bottle – guess what happens? What is the best way to tell if an egg is hard-boiled without peeling it? Hint: it involves spinning and momentum.

Since the fall season is upon us, chef Bastide also prepared two delicious dishes from scratch: butternut squash soup with pomegranate whipped cream and sautéed squash and pomegranates. Who would have imagined that the kids would line up for seconds?

Chef Christy Wolf Previews Tasting Week 2015

As a preview to next week’s Tasting Week, Chef Christy Wolf prepared a delicious green salad and fruit salad for students at Escondido Elementary School. While prepping and mixing the meal, she spoke with dozens of children about food taste, color, balance and nutrients. Chef Christy Wolfe at EscondidoThe children were excited to learn as they feasted on several new fruits and vegetables. Many of the children even tried vegetables they had never tasted before. Christy also taught the children how adding a spice like chili powder, or a dash of salt, can bring out a whole new flavor in the fruit.

Thank you Chef Christy for coming and teaching the kids about healthy foods!

Tasting Week 2014 Begins Monday, October 6

Our Tasting Week team is in full swing, getting ready for the workshops beginning Monday, October 6. Building on our success from 2013, we have added several new chefs to our roster, and are also offering a new workshop on the Five SensesGirl Smiling Cracking Egg for our younger elementary school kids. We are happy to extend our partnership to new schools this year too! If you are a chef or a school interested in holding a workshop, please do not hesitate to contact us, it’s not too late. The kids are always very excited about the event as you can see from their smiles.

Tasting Week Closing with a Grand Finale

Omnivore tour

We closed our celebration of taste and flavor at the Observation Post of the Presidio on a bright sunny day, overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge. Thanks to Omnivore World Tour, we were able to open up the discovery of taste to families. Children from 3 to 14 years old participated in six workshops organized around the five senses and the discovery of street food.

Germain Biotteau from Macarons Chantal Guillon hosted the SEE workshop, also entitled Eat with Your Eyes. He organized a fun and tasty game with macarons to show the importance of sight and appearance in cooking. The kids had to guess what flavor of the macarons by looking at them and then tasting them.

Nathan Beriau from Ritz Carlton San Francisco hosted the HEAR workshop, also entitled Listen to Food. Kids got to hear what a fresh carrot and celery branch sounds like when it is snapped, and how to look for freshness with their ears when they shop for ingredients.

Cynthia Falatic from Ritz Carlton San Francisco hosted the SMELL workshop, also

Rosted marshmallows

entitled How Smell Triggers Memory. She let the kids smell different desserts and asked them what memories they associated with them. Many kids could smell the campfire when smelling roasted marshmallows.

Jonathan Silverman from Feel the Earth hosted the TOUCH workshop. The kids made soil with coconut fiber and rocks, and were proud to create their own necklace of life with a cotton and seed.

Mateo Boucher from Real Food company hosted the TASTE workshop and focused on pomegranates. The kids learned how to peel open, prepare and taste pomegranates.

Marianne Despres introduced us to Street Food. Marianne transformed an authentic French 1970 Citroen H-Van into a Food-Truck and now cooks fresh and Argentine style empanadas served directly from the oven!

To finish off the day, all the kids received a special Lunch Box prepared by the Students from the Cordon Bleu.

Thanks to all

Thanks to all the Chefs for a highly successful Tasting Week 2012! See you next year!

Tasting Week is Almost Over!

Dennis Leary

Our last day of the official Tasting Week was Friday, October 19. In San Francisco, Jenny Huston and Lorraine Witte conducted workshops focused on a single ingredient: apples for Jenny and soy/bean curd for Lorraine. Jenny led a discussion on apple history, varieties, uses and attributes. She brought 20 apples (five varieties) and they were all eaten…Lorraine talked about the multiple uses of soy, in its raw sprouts form to marinated tofu.

For those with a sweet tooth, she made dessert won tons and the children sprinkled sugar over them. Also on the Asian theme, Elianna Friedmann from CUESA made vegetable spring rolls with a carrot, ginger, honey sauce with the students.

The A to Z salad bar came to Terman Middle School, on its way to Gunn High School on Monday. Kids and staff alike were very impressed with the A to Zdisplay.

Back to the Fundamentals


Today’s workshops were incredibly diverse, but had one thing in common. Every chef shared their favorite fundamental ingredient for good cooking. Chef Nathan Beriau focused his workshop on salt and pepper, introducing the kids form Palo Verde Elementary school in Palo Alto to various forms of salt and pepper from around the world. At the same time in another classroom at Palo Verde, chefs Kimberly Tran and Jordan Keao were teaching children how to make butter, another fundamental of good cooking.

Chef Peter Rudolph from Madera restaurant agrees that butter is a fundamental, but he adds that good olive oil is key to great cooking, and he makes his point by gulping down a whole glass of olive oil in front of an audience in awe at Ohlone Elementary school. Chef Rudolph used both butter and olive oil to make his delicious pumpkin soup with croutons sauteed with garlic and sage. In San Francisco, artisan chocolate maker Shawn Williams from Feve Chocolates showed children how to use all forms of chocolate, yet another fundamental ingredient in great cooking.

Juana Briones Elementary is getting ready for the visits of chef Marco Fossati tomorrow by hosting an exhibition cooking at lunchtime, courtesy of Sodexo, the provider to PAUSD Food Services. One hundred and sixty kids got to enjoy a special meal of chicken teriyaki, tofu brown rice and sauteed vegetables.

Making Crepes

Making Crepes

Today chef Emmanuel Robert from the Sofitel San Francisco Bay visited two classrooms at the International School of the Peninsula. First he displayed several pots of herbs and asked the children to name them. To our surprise, the kids were able to identify all of them: rosemary, thyme, mint and basil. They smelled each one of the plants and suggested a few dishes that would be appropriate for each herb, such as pasta and basil, yum.

Rosemary at ISTP

Then Chef Robert asked for volunteers to help him make crepes – everyone was a volunteer. Chef Robert explained that crepes were invented back in Roman times, they were actually the first form of bread. The children helped the Chef crack the eggs and mix the batter.

Cooking tip: Chef Robert sifts the batter to ensure all egg shells and lumps come out. Then, to ensure all egg shells and lumps come out. Then, while the crepes were cooking, the children tasted Chef Robert’s special mushrooms, mixed with oliv oil, thyme and salt. Everyone gave the mushrooms a try, even children who had never eaten a mushroom before. The crepes were definitely the highlight of the workshop – whether with fresh strawberries, jam, or cheese and ham. Thank you Chef Robert!

Sneak Preview of Tasting Week 2012

Juana Briones Elementary

Yesterday local Palo Alto chef and cookbook author Laura Stec came to Juana Briones Elementary to give a cooking class to 4th graders. First Laura worked with the students on classifying seasonal fruits and vegetables and talked about how microorganisms in the soil help food grow. Then she did a demonstration of caramelized peas.

When the children expressed surprise at how sweet the peas tasted, Laura reminded them that caramelization happens at 330 degrees while water boils at 100 degrees – so if a vegetable does not taste good to us when it is boiled perhaps we should try sautéing it instead to bring out the sweetness in it!

May, 17th, 2012, Chefs move to school

Then Laura made a multi-fruit smoothie. There was not a drop left after the class. The kids were overwhelming positive and they asked Laura if she could come back every day!

This is just a sneak preview of the great events coming up during Tasting Week 2012 from October 12 to October 2012. Save the dates!

Tasting Week 2011 Ends With a Grand Finale

We said goodbye to Tasting Week 2011 on Wednesday, October 26 at Juana Briones Elementary School. It was the last day, but definitely not the least. We had three chefs visiting the school on the same day, as well as the now famous A to Z salad bar from Food Services.

Chef Charlie Ayers at Juana Briones Elementary School.

Chef Charlie Ayers from Calafia Café in Palo Alto (and former executive Chef at Google), took two classes of fifth graders on a discovery of the fifth taste – umami. This taste was discovered in the 1980s by a Japanese researcher. It is the taste that you find in mushrooms, soy sauce and meat. It is also called “deliciousness” – what a wonderful concept! Chef Charlie treated the children like true scientists and explorers – he had them try a roasted shiitake mushroom, followed by a little goblet of soy sauce, followed by beef stock and a crispy parmesan cracker. The children were very focused on the feelings in their mouth and had lots of very scientific comments to make about the amount of sodium in each bite and the aftertaste in their mouths.

Chef Nathan Beriau at Juana Briones Elementary School

Meanwhile, Chef Nathan Beriau from the Ritz Carlton in San Francisco travelled to the land of salt. He brought samples of salt from many different countries: France, England, Hawaii and the Philippines, to name just a few of them. He explained the origin of salt, its role in food preservation and the extraordinary value of salt a few centuries ago. The children smelled, touched and tasted all the different grains of salt. Then to finish off the presentation he gave them each a chocolate cookie he
had made (with a pinch of salt!).

Chef Brendy Monsada at Juana Briones Elementary School

Meanwhile, Chef Brendy Monsada was busy making beautiful salads with peeled cucumbers, orzo, tomatoes, and even blue cheese. The children huddled around him with wide eyes as if he were preparing a magic potion. To finish off his workshop, he let the children choose between a lemon tart or a chocolate tart. The children were absolutely thrilled.

Matt Nagle, Principal, Juana Briones Elementary School, Ivan Bertoux, Cultural Affairs Attache, Consulat de France, San Francisco, Rebecca Scholl, Tasting Week, Romain Serman, Consul General de France, San Francisco, Kevin Skelly, Superintendent, Palo Alto Unified School District

We had several famous visitors during this day. The Consul General of France, Romain Serman, along with the Cultural Affairs Attache from France, came to celebrate the final day of Tasting Week.

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Since “La Semaine du Gout” started off as a French Celebration in France 22 years ago, Romain was thrilled to see how Palo Alto was adapting the event locally. The children from teacher Halimah Van Tuyl took him to visit their rosemary garden and their own class kitchen where they cook every single week. We also were happy to host Kevin Skelly, Palo Alto School District Superintendent, who thanked the Tasting Week team for bringing such a fun event to Palo Alto schools. As his mother always says “much depends upon dinner”.

Thank you to all the volunteers who made this Tasting Week possible. In particular Armelle Soustiel, Carla Matlin, Florence Thomas, Jian Ma, Lea Bowmer and Joel Barbier. And a big thanks to Alva Spence from Food Services for hosting the popular A to Z salad bar.

We look forward to seeing you all next year!

Stay tuned for more exciting news on the website. We will soon be sharing the Chef’s recipes and the progress of our Palo Alto Hot Lunch initiative.