Thursday, May 31, 2001
Sylvia Georis of Casanova Restaurant and the Corkscrew Café is behind the inspirational project that brings local chefs into Carmel River School once a month for demonstrations on how to prepare healthy meals for fourth graders. Since last September, prominent area chefs like Wendy Little, Robert Kincaid, Lissa Farr and Kurt Grasing have volunteered their time and supplied the food for the demo/lunch for about 80 students.
"The goal of the program is to teach children how to make healthy choices," Georis says. "It's not that hard." She hopes to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into kids' diets, believing healthy fare will win out in the long term.
"It doesn't have to always be peanut butter and jelly and salty chips or Lunchables, which are the worst," says Georis. So far, the Chefs and Kids classes have introduced the students to breakfast burritos, chicken satay with peanut sauce, Asian coleslaw, fruit smoothies, rice pudding and all sorts of salads. "At home you may try to feed them things like a Caesar salad and they won't even try it, but after watching the chefs, as a group, the kids will try everything--and they really like salad."
After the cooking demo and meal, the students go home with easy healthy meal recipes and a shopping list for the ingredients so they can recreate the dishes at home with their parents. Georis knows that this type of lesson with 9- and 10-year-olds "opens them up to a whole different way of eating."
This is not Georis' first foray into revamping the unsavory state of food in the schools. She is one of the three women responsible for starting the River School Children's Garden, which brings fresh and healthy foods directly into the hands of children. The quarter of an acre garden facing Mission Ranch and the ocean is home to veggies galore, including five kinds of lettuce, radishes, beets, carrots and an herb garden. "Kids love to dig and plant," says Georis, "especially the younger ones, who love to pull radishes and carrots out of the ground."
The Children's Garden is modeled after the groundbreaking work of Alice Waters of Chez Panisse in Berkeley. Waters is responsible for the "garden in every school" and totally organic foods served in the Berkeley school system. Waters recently visited the Children's Garden in Carmel and shared her tips and ideas with the three-person committee (Georis, Ellen Fondlier and Chris Robertson that oversees it. The committee also is currently working with Carmel Unified School District to agree on healthier food choices at the hot food service in its school cafeterias. Says Georis, "We live in the area that produces fruits and vegetables for the whole world, and we are trying to get more of those fruits and vegetables into the school lunches."
This year's pilot program with the 9- and 10-year-olds has a very special finale coming up on Monday. The year-end kickoff stars local Monterey celebrity chef John Pisto, who will cook up something scrumptious for the lucky fourth graders. For more info, call Sylvia Georis at 659-1050.
Two Hot to Handle The fine food of the Quail Lodge Resort and Golf Club in Carmel Valley has gotten even finer since Chef de Cuisine Jean Hubert and Executive Sous Chef Leo Ayala were added to the team Both recently began working their magic at the destination resort and fine dining outpost. The Covey Restaurant reaps the benefits of Chef Hubert's years of experience in some of the finest kitchens in the county. The Monterey Peninsula Country Club in Pebble Beach, Cherche in Carmel and the Old Bathhouse in Pacific Grove provided the training grounds for Hubert's "food as fine art" philosophy. Ayala brings the lessons learned in his mother's restaurant near Acapulco, Mexico, and the Four Seasons in Newport Beach to the exciting menus in the Club Dining Room. Bon appetit and buen aprovecho!
Fast, Cheap and in Control Making healthier choices is something everyone needs a little help with every now and again, especially when "fast and cheap" are the necessary evils of your gastronomic game plan. The newish Chipotle Mexican Grill in Del Monte Center (it threw open its sleek, modern doors in late January) offers fresh fast burritos and tacos that definitely are "lotsa dinner, little dinero" as the catchy ads promise. The vegetarian fajita burrito is a marvelous meatless treat with loads of sautéed vegetables added to the rice and beans that usually are the only lonely ingredients in most "veggie" burritos around town. The Denver-based chain also does while-you-watch tacos and fajitas--made with chicken, beef and pork. If you watch closely and choose wisely, it just may be possible to walk out with some guilt-free fast food.
Greens Grocer If fast and cheap are replaced by leisurely and pricey in your food vocabulary--then Friday's Gourmet Golf Tournament at the Quail Lodge Resort and Golf Club in Carmel is for you. For a $180 registration fee, you get the chance to hit the links for a day filled with gourmet hors d'oeuvres, wine and golf. The price includes all the amenities (green fee, golf cart, goodies all day long and a gourmet dinner) and benefits the American Institute of Food & Wine's scholarship fund. The A.I.W.F. provides helps students interested in furthering their education in the food and beverage industry. Indulge yourself with reckless abandon as you ensure the future of fine food on the Central Coast.