Alternative cooking schools

A guest post by Brian Jenkins

Are you interested in becoming a professional chef? There are numerous quality culinary arts programs to choose from, including programs which focus on healthy cooking. Besides cooking techniques, many of the programs also teach the business aspects of the profession. Training at a prestigious culinary school increases your chances of succeeding in the traditional food service industry.

The nation’s top culinary schools include Le Cordon Bleu, The Culinary Institute of America, and the College of Culinary Arts at Johnson & Wales University.

While those schools focus more on gourmet European cooking techniques, several institutions have made their mark with alternative food preparation from both inside and outside the U.S. Most emphasize healthful, healing, or animal product-free cooking. Here are a few schools offering this kind of culinary education. Continue reading

Jewish goat cheese

From December 9 to 12, I attended the Hazon Food Conference – East Coast at the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center in Connecticut. Here is a piece I wrote for The Jew and the Carrot about one “culturally” enlightening session. Photo by moi.

Goat feta

Can Cheese Be Jewish?

“Goats are the Jews of the animal kingdom,” Aitan Mizrahi told a group at the Hazon Food Conference on Friday morning. The workshop participants, gathered in the warm, cream-scented air of a small industrial kitchen at the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center, immediately picked up on the tongue-in-cheek theme: They wander, they are intelligent, and they are stiff-necked, they said. And, Mizrahi pointed out, “They enjoy to be in a minyan and they also enjoy to go off on their own and shmooze.”

So the gentle and friendly milk-producers make a perfect fit for Freedman, an eco-conscious retreat space in the Berkshires.

Read more on The Jew and the Carrot.

Home cooking – the happiest meal of all

Cooking pot (what a surprise)

In response to a city council vote to ban toys from Happy Meals, an op-ed in the San Francisco Examiner in early November argued that it’s no biggie. The piece came from Karen Wells, vice president of nutrition and menu strategy for McDonald’s USA. She argues that the boxed meals–consisting mostly of processed foods with fairly high fat, sodium, and sugar content–are a treat, not a threat.

I’m glad that someone views our fast food nation this way. As I noted in another post, Americans spend just 27 minutes a day preparing food, according to Michael Pollan’s research. He writes that this amounts to half the time we spent in the 1960s. By one count, McDonald’s has sold more than 20 billion of these meals since it first introduced the concept in 1979, averaging more than 640 million per year. Continue reading

Are schools focusing on healthier food options?

This guest post is contributed by Cindy Cullen, who writes on the topic of culinary art college. She welcomes your comments by email.

Obesity and disease are more evident now than ever before; the numbers are rising as the days go by, and health is no longer something we can take for granted. Unless we take steps to preserve it and nurture it from childhood, we risk falling prey to illness and poor health as we grow older. We all know that the key to holistic health and wellbeing are diet and exercise – watch what you eat and work out five days a week. However, we fail to encourage our children to adopt this way of life, and because of this, we fail at providing them with a healthy life. Continue reading

Is it Thanksgiving yet? How about now??

Picture this: You’re a kid again. The unexpected is scary, and you await the expected with baited breath. The more you plan that future trip or visit or birthday party, the more exciting it becomes.

That’s a little how I’ve felt as my family members planned out Thanksgiving menu. We have agreed on a wholesome meal, I think, with all sorts of stuff we can buy at the farmers market. (Wee! The farmers market!)

I thought I would share a little of that fun with the blogosphere. Here is what we plan to cook and eat.

For your added enjoyment, this menu is laced with a link scavenger hunt and even a recipe built in. All that’s left is the anticipation.

Snacking before the meal

Smoky black bean dip
Walnuts and raisins

First course

Squash soup

Salad with nuts, seeds, and all manner of veggie goodness Continue reading

Through unity, we find strength

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In August, a group of Gallaudet University alumni, staff members, and supporters traveled to Port-au-Prince to work with deaf and hard of hearing survivors of the earthquake. I traveled with them, as a reporter for the university. During the week-long effort, from August 5 to 12, the group helped to address problems facing deaf people and their families in a tent community in Port-au-Prince, and made connections with others who wanted to forge a better future for people with disabilities in Haiti. Continue reading

Blue cheese with apricots

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The title of this post is one of the delicacies I ate last Friday at the Center for Green Urbanism in far northeast D.C. The title is also the one and only bit of this post focused on food.

I ate these chunks of goodness at the opening of ReCREATE, an art exhibit using materials saved from landfills and recycling plants. And then I wrote about it — the art, that is. Read my article about this mix of funky, salty, and sweet creations on the Washington City Paper Arts Desk blog.