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 local 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

Shawn Williams

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.

Sneak preview of Tasting Week 2012

Juana Briones Elementary

Yesterday local Palo Alto chef and cookbook author Laura Stec (http://www.laurastec.com) 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! Then she 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!

May, 17th, 2012, Chefs move to school

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. 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.

Tasting Week “en Francais”

Chef Gerald Hirigoyen at Gunn HS

Today Chef Gerald Hirigoyen from the basque restaurant Piperade visited the advanced French class of Ms Anne Jensen. He gave his entire workshop in French! The students were a bit reserved at first, but when he started cooking the piperade (a basque dish composed of onions, red peppers and olive oil) they asked him many questions. It was hard to resist him, since he prepared sample plates with marinated roasted peppers, smoked ham, marinated anchovies and peppers. Every student finished their anchovies, which just goes to show you that our kids are much more adventurous than we think. For dessert he had prepared a Gateau basque and figs. Delicieux!

Chef Gerald Hirigoyen at GunnHS

At lunch break, PAUSD Food Services presented the A to Z salad bar to Hot Lunch students and offered the salad bar to all 150 staff at Gunn. The Salad bar will take a break until next week before reappearing on Tuesday at Terman Middle School.
Just two more days before the Wine Tasting at Lavanda. It is time to get your ticket before the event is sold out! You can reserve by sending an email to Rebecca@tastingweek.com

October 20, Tasting Week is in full swing in Palo Alto

For the third day of the week, we received the visit of four fabulous chefs at Terman Middle School, Barron Park Elementary and the International School of the Peninsula.


Chef Art Smith and Principal Katherine Baker at Terman HS

Terman received the visit of chef, restaurateur, and television personality Art Smith, winner of Top Chef Masters and former personal chef for Oprah Winfrey for 10 years. The children were very impressed by his personal background, how he grew up in a small town and taught himself how to cook. His lesson on taste was also a lesson about life: be strong, be brave, and share your passion with those around you. His business partner Sari organized a blind tasting for the kids, who were able to recognize almost all the foods she presented. Art challenged the kids to discover their “broccoli”, or their contribution to the world – a reference to his non-profit organization Common Threads that teaches underprivileged children how to cook. The children could not believe their luck to have met such a famous chef and one of them posted on Facebook tonight “best guest speaker ever in home economics today”.

Chef Olivia Wu at Barron Park

The children in Barron Park were equally lucky to meet with Liv Wu, executive chef at Google. First, she explained to them that cooking could be compared to drawing. Adding a color is the same as adding an ingredient. She pursued the similarity by making then thinking about a color for each different taste that an ingredient can have: green for salty, orange for sweet, purple for sour, red for spicy. Nose blocked, they tried to feel the different taste of a strawberry, a peanut, and some mint. Then, in front of the children’s eyes opened wide, she prepared a mixed salad with a “vinaigrette”, French word like “chef” ! Chef Liv Wu chose the ingredients as an artist. She added the last pinch of salt, and it was time to eat. How amazing it was to see the children leaking their plates and ask for more salad!

Chef Suzanne Vandyck at Barron Park

Chef Suzanne VanDyck made crostini out of fresh garden tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and grilled baguette. Children traveled in Europe with the tomatoes, learned the olive oil secrets, and the art of cutting in small pieces. Then, they put their hands on in chopping basil in the tomatoes preparation. Made from organic tomatoes, with organic olive oil from 1st cold pressure, garlics and fresh basil, the crostinis looked gorgeous and were very appreciated by the kids.

Bernard Moutal at ISTP

At the ISTP, chef Bernard Moutal taught the kids the proper way to cut an onion, and how to make a salad with flavor by using many sorts of herbs- parsley, chives, basil and tarragon. They made a salad dressing and dipped bread into it to taste the flavors. Every child went home with a sample of their salad dressing. A recommendation from Chef Moutal as you prepare your pumpkin soup for Halloween: add some nutmeg and some sugar!

Tasting Week Continued on Tuesday, October 18


Pastry Chef Cynthia Falatic at Terman

Tasting Week continued on Tuesday, October 18 with four excellent workshops at Terman Middle School and Gunn High School. Cynthia Falatic, Executive Pastry Chef at the Ritz Carlton, showed the middle school students of Ms Judy Salmon at Terman how to make apple crisp and chocolate mousse. She explained how to select the right apples for cooking and how to cook them so that they will be juicy but still crunchy. The chocolate mousse recipe Cynthia selected was very easy to make, with just whipping cream and chocolate, but so delicious. It helped that she made it out of Valhrona chocolate 64% – it really makes a difference when you use good chocolate…. The children were very engaged in the process and asked Chef Cynthia many questions, such as “do you sleep at the Ritz Carlton at night?” and “what was the strangest experience you ever had?”. Chef Cynthia answered every question in a poised manned and with a smile. After Terman, Cynthia went over to Gunn High School to conduct a great session with Ms Cindy Peters’ high school students, who were equally engaged.

Chef Bruno Ponsot at Terman

In the afternoon, Terman Middle school received the visit of Chef Bruno Ponsot, from the French Culinary Institute in Campbell. Chef Bruno focused his workshop on seasonal vegetables of the fall. He introduced the students to fennel, celeriac, turnips, butternut squash, which he presented to them both raw and cooked. They first smelled, then tasted the vegetables. Most of the vegetables received an overwhelming number of thumbs up. He then proceeded to introduce them to fresh herbs, from the most fine and rare chervil to the powerful tarragon. He even turned sorrel and watercress into delicate purees for all to enjoy. This session was a real discovery for the students who gave Chef Bruno a big round of applause.

October 17, Chef Emmanuel Robert, Sofitel, at ISTP

Tasting Week had a strong start today with the visit of Emmanuel Robert, Executive Chef at the Sofitel, to theInternational School of the Peninsula.

Chef Robert gave two workshops for the classrooms of Ms Katia Belghadid (2nd grade) and Ms Hayat Saba (1st grade). Among the many samples he shared with the kids you could find olives, endives, pickles, grilled meat, asparagus, grapefruit, strawberries, marshmallows, apricots, dried bananas, ham, mint, chives, sugar and pepper. What a display! He showed the kids the different ways to cook meat (seared vs well done) and taught them where chocolate comes from (cocoa beans, white chocolate and cocoa butter).The highlight of each workshop was when Chef Robert  melted chocolate chips over a small burner and then let each child dip a fruit into the chocolate mix. This was so popular they went for seconds…and thirds. Chef Robert says he was quite impressed by the fact that all the children were able to name the vegetables he presented to them.  When asked what he would put in a lunchbox, he said cold potato or pasta salads are quite popular and they lend themselves to introducing new foods to kids in small quantities.

Overall the kids were thrilled with their tasting experience today, as you can see from the photos. Thanks to Nazee Domiray-Sage from the Sofitel for providing the kids with the lovely chef hats!