With the start of another school year comes the start of Edible Schoolyard Pittsburgh garden programming in our 5 Flagship elementary schools.  September means garden tours and scavenger hunts, harvesting with classes using our 5 Senses, storing and pickling fall produce and – favorite of all – our annual Chef in the Garden event.

Making perogi with Chefs Kate and Tomasz at Pittsburgh Montessori's Chef in the Garden 2013

Making potato and kale perogi with chefs Kate and Tomasz at Pittsburgh Montessori’s Chef in the Garden 2013

During Chef in the Garden, students gather on straw bales in their school garden to cook and sample healthy, seasonal food with a local chef.

The classes often begin with students harvesting herbs, tomatoes, ground cherries, raspberries or other fresh produce and handing it to the chef to use in the recipe. The chef then creates a tasty seasonal creation – with the assistance of very enthusiastic kids! As the food is being prepared, the chef shares about how s/he became a chef, about why eating locally is valuable and about the importance of a healthy diet all year round. The lesson ends by sampling the food – and usually with students asking for seconds and thirds of this food they not only helped to grow, but also helped to prepare. Students are given a copy of the recipe so they can share the experience, and the food, with their families.

Watching a child taste a new fruit or vegetable for the first time -and love it- is nothing sort of magical. What we love about this event is that there is lots of very positive peer pressure between students to be open minded and to give fresh foods a try. It’s kids helping kids to introduce new, healthy flavors to their palette in a safe, affirming and celebratory setting.

Justin Steele of Bar Marco cuts tomatoes for salsa beside young chefs from PIttsburgh Montessori.

Justin Steele of Bar Marco cuts tomatoes for salsa beside young chefs from Pittsburgh Montessori at Chef in the Garden 2013.

   This year, we’re hosting Chef in the Garden at Pittsburgh Colfax, Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh Charter School and Pittsburgh Dilworth.

The local guest chefs are absolute food heros in the eyes of the students. What chefs say about healthy, real food is truth to students. The healthy food chefs prepare is delicious, because the kids were involved in the growing and cooking process and because the chef endorses it. We are so grateful these chefs are using their powers for good.

We have a star line up of guest chefs who will be joining us for Chef in the Garden 2014.  Thanks go out to: Chris Bonfili of Avenue B, Jessica Podolsky of Joy of Catering, Dory Levine of Dorian’s Catering, Rafael Vencio of Legume, Bek Hlavach of Sweet Peaches, Jamilka Borges of Bar Marco , Tim Fetter, Executive Chef for Parkhurst Dining at Duquesne University, and Bill Fuller of Big Burrito Restaurant Group.  Please support them and their businesses!

Stay posted for photos and recipes from our Chef in the Garden events later this month!  Just can’t wait?  Check out photos from last year’s events!