Where Our Food Comes From
Spike Mendelsohn discusses his work with children.
I always tell everyone that if I didn’t cook, I’d be a pro surfer. I think I need to amend this claim. If I wasn’t a chef, I would herd sheep.
All kidding aside, I loved hanging out at Border Springs and Rappahannock Oysters. Getting down and dirty at the farm was such a blast. As a chef, it is essential to understand where your food actually comes from.
I’m happy that Jen had the opportunity to escape to the farm for a couple of days. The stress of trying to find investors and constantly being there for her family must take a toll on the girl. It was great to see her let her hair down, have a few drinks, and chase around some chickens. Being a part of Top Chef created a strong camaraderie between all of the former contestants. We support each other, hang out together, and cheer each other on. Jen is a great friend to have in your corner, so I’ll be there for her 100%.
At Good Stuff Eatery, we are constantly trying to give back to our community. We began Good Stuff Gardens as our way of supporting the First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign. Our initiative allows us to plant gardens at local schools in D.C. The students and I plant herbs, vegetables and fruit. I try to teach the students how to live a healthier lifestyle. I believe it is imperative to educate young students about the importance of healthy eating and that cooking can be fun. After we harvest the fruits of our labor in the garden, I conduct a cooking demonstration with the students and their parents. The trick is to teach the students how to make dishes they already like and are comfortable with, but in a different approach -- one that is healthier, fresher and more delicious.At these cooking demonstrations in local schools, I always ask the students where chicken comes from. It kills me that every single time a student yells out “Safeway!” or some other grocery store. Kids don’t always understand where their food comes from. It should be fresh, nutritious and, when possible, local. Your tomatoes aren’t from Whole Foods; they come from a hard-working farmer and his or her land.
I love working directly with children. We get our hands dirty in the garden, learn how to make a well-balanced meal, and the students listen. If you make gardening and cooking fun, kids pay attention. The students are receptive to new approaches and appreciate the freshness of the ingredients if you take the time to show them why it is important. We all need to stop and think about where our food comes from and make some healthier decisions with that in mind.