Would New York City chefs rather be Food Network stars than do-gooders?
This past June, Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Campaign to fight childhood obesity launched the Chefs Move to Schools Initiative. Chefs across the country were invited to adopt a school and teach students that vegetables can taste great and chicken nuggets aren’t laid like eggs.
At P.S. 11 in the Bronx, chef Raquel Rivera-Pablo taught a six-week cooking class for third graders, where the students learned to make vegetable crostinis, Greek salads, and even summer squash ribbons. “We try to do a lot of cooking and nutrition education,” says Deborah Osborne at P.S. 11. But the students were especially engaged when working with a real chef.”
Since the launch of the initiative, 54 schools in the five boroughs have signed up to get cooking and a chef. There’s only one problem. Of those schools, only seven have been matched with a chef. In a city that is home to 24,000 restaurants, where are all the chefs? On the Food Network and lobbying to cook at the James Beard House?
To be fair, most city chefs most likely don’t know the opportunity exists, says Jean Daniels, the USDA Public Affairs Director. “The initiative was really started at the end of the school year. So over the summer, it would have been difficult for the schools to sign-up chefs.” Now that it’s fall, they’d love to see the initiative grow. “The simple answer is yes, we’re looking for more chefs, and more schools,” adds Daniels.
What about you, Tom Colicchio? We know that Season 8 of Top Chef has you back in good old NYC, where Humanities Preparatory Academy is in the market for a chef—and hey, they’re just one avenue east of Colicchio & Sons on 18th Street.
And Mario Batali, your foray into the world of healthy eating doesn’t have to end with Meatless Mondays. Maybe you could take a short walk over to P.S. 347 on East 23rd Street with Eataly‘s Vegetable Butcher to teach some slicing and dicing?
Chefs of New York City, these are your marching orders!