The 2012 Whole Grain Challenge offered the opportunity for “veteran” and “rookie” schools to win cases of whole grain products by sharing their whole grain cooking experiences. While the top 10 schools were sent cases of whole grain products, the two grand prizewinners had the honor of hosting a special guest chef in their school to conduct a staff workshop on whole grain cooking.

Nutrition Specialist Angie Gaszak and her team at Saint Paul Public Schools (SPPS) were the Grand Prize winning school in the veteran category. Their tried-and-true method of slowly incorporating new foods that honor their diverse population of students truly impressed our judges.

Chef Barbara Mattaliano, Vice President of Goose Valley Natural Foods and special guest chef, spent the first half of the day in the Minnesota school, touring the Nutrition Center, watching a lunch service at the high school, and tasting menu favorites.

“I was so excited when I saw the healthy food choices students were making. So many students had salads piled high on their trays. Nutrition Services makes dressings from scratch and offers a variety of ethnic choices. I love the passion and commitment the SPPS foodservice staff has for serving students healthy meals. One of the lunch ladies from Togo in Africa was singing for the students. This warm supportive environment is sure to improve student learning!” -Barbara Mattaliano


Chef%20Barbara%204-23-2013%20012 0.jpg

During the second part of the day, Chef Barbara worked directly with the foodservice team, sharing her expertise in preparing and serving whole grains the kids would love.



Chef%20Barbara%204-23-2013%20016 0.jpg

Tweaking her recipe on the spot to accommodate the kitchen’s capabilities, Chef Barbara prepared Chipotle Rice & Bean Burgers that were an immediate hit.



Chef%20Barbara%204-23-2013%20018 0.jpg

Here, Chef Barbara shows the team how to create fluffy whole grain rice. 
Bring rice and water to a boil. Cover, reduce to simmer and set timer according to package instructions. Remove from heat, spoon rice onto a sheet pan, and rest at room temperature. Run chopsticks through rice to separate grains and release steam. Season with Kosher salt. Once cool, transfer rice to storage container and refrigerate. Cooked rice can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week. 




“We are looking forward to utilizing her tips and tricks in our schools’ rice preparation techniques and testing the recipe further to add new healthy and delicious items to our kid-friendly menu. Her passion for food and child nutrition was energizing and contagious and it was truly a joy to have her here.” -Angie Gaszak


We were thrilled to hear how well the workshop went, with both chef and school giving us such great feedback. It’s feel-good stories like this one that confirm our goal to work closely with whole grain advocates on the front lines, like these school cafeteria workers.

Stay tuned for the story from our winning “rookie” school soon. (Karen)


Add a Comment