My childhood has a lot of moving parts to it and without going into details, is why helping others with professional development is a commitment I made to myself. Networking and volunteering with professional associations helps a person to further develop their potential and opportunities. I’m all for that.
This is why I support the local chapters of the American Culinary Federation and Institute of Food Technologists for professional development resources, mentoring, networking and community involvement.
Helping culinary students along their career paths is another area I am passionate about and take action on that with the ACFAZ Student Chef’s Association. This has been a challenge however there’s so many positives behind this and positive feedback, I refuse to throw in the towel.
The students recharge me and would love to see more mentoring in our community. Next student project is putting together a city wide culinary meet and greet among the different culinary programs in the Valley. Just need more time in a day and more support.
When I learned more about the school food service segment, back when there were fryers and soda machines in schools, I was appalled. It just didn’t make sense to me and therefore I wanted to learn more and as I did, learned this was a very complex segment of food service. It was such a different world from the standard food service channel yet one I was focused on better understanding.
While working for a food broker as a school specialist, I learned a tremendous about school foods yet still didn’t understand how to help support changes in cafeterias. During that time, I discovered chef Ann Cooper’s presentation about “What’s wrong with school lunches” which was a voice I had hoped I could find. An organization or group of people looking to help with changes in school food service.
In 2009, Slow Foods Phoenix hosted a Lunch-In at the Arizona State Fairgrounds which was my first introduction to chefs with child nutrition outreach I had seen and set out to support that. Slow Foods Phoenix was also my first introduction to the local food moment.
Then came the Chefs Move To Schools program in 2010 which put a definition on was this type of outreach and have worked to help further develop this outreach at the local level. This is a segment I am interested in further supporting as well and again, another area where I wish I had more time. We have hosted a few events and always looking for rock stars who can help with supporting those on the front line of these challenges.
Another thing that surfaced while selling school foods was learning about programs focused feeding kids before school and that for many children, those meals were their main meals for the day. This problem is one the public is more aware of because of food banks and programs like Share Our Strength’s. Within Share Our Strength’s is Cooking Matters and one group I should get more involved with.