St. Martin De Porres Empowers Picky Eaters Through Involvement

Students of St. Martin De Porres High School enjoy their made-from-scratch fettuccine Alfredo

Students of St. Martin De Porres High School enjoy their made-from-scratch fettuccine Alfredo

Kids are picky eaters — true or false? Many frustrated parents might answer this with a resounding “True!” but Chef/Manager Victor Lane of St. Martin De Porres High School in urban Cleveland has set out to bust that myth.

It’s been a challenge to work within school nutrition guidelines and provide fresh and wholesome food, but the students have really taken to their new lunch options. They were so inspired by the offerings that they wanted to learn to cook similar food while at home. And that’s how St. Martin’s first high school culinary club was born! The club grew exponentially throughout its first year, and Victor hopes to expand it to the parents and teachers association participants in the future.

Although most extracurricular activities are designed to break the monotony of studies, this one actually has homework. Victor picks an ingredient, which students must use to find two types of recipes – one classic and one fun. The first week, students learn a classic preparation technique utilizing that ingredient, and the following week, they prepare a fun dish. For example, Victor taught students how to prepare a roux from their homework ingredient, flour. Once the roux was mastered, they learned how to turn it into an Alfredo sauce. In addition to learning to make a simple sauce from scratch, students were also taught how to determine the doneness of their pasta without throwing it at the cupboards.

After the students finished cooking, Victor made his own batch of Alfredo sauce, showed them the traditional proper plating technique (parsley included), and joined the students to enjoy their labors of love. The following week, the students got to have more fun baking cupcakes and making frosting from scratch. No wonder the club is so popular!

Submitted by Dayna Einheit, Registered Dietitian