Each month, Gregory-Lincoln Education Center teacher Kellie Karavias leads a small group of her students on a walking field trip to whip up a delicious and healthy meal at Houston’s top restaurant The Pass & Provisions.
The class isn’t an ordinary culinary arts course or cooking class. In fact, students carefully select a few fruits or vegetables harvesting at the time in their school garden, then work with chefs Seth Siegel-Gardner and Terrence Gallivan to create a dish that’s both nutritious and delicious.
Karavias says the cooking classes began after sending out a tweet to the chefs asking if she could bring her students to The Pass & Provisions—and she received a response.
“I went over [to the restaurant] and asked if I could speak to the chef, and Seth came out with hors d’oeuvres,” Karavias said. “We started talking, and he wanted to know what we were doing at the school, so I invited him and Terrence over.”
Under Karavias’ supervision, students first learn how food is grown by working directly in the school garden. Once students arrive at the restaurant for their monthly visit, the chefs teach the students how food is prepared by cooking recipes from scratch. The program serves as a reminder of the district’s commitment to green schools by creating a healthy environment beneficial to learning while saving energy, resources, and money.
“We’ve always done a lot of cooking lessons on what the students have either grown or what they have been learning about in class,” Gallivan said. “For us, the process has been rewarding, and I believe all schools should have courses that teach healthy eating habits and other educational benefits about where food comes from.”
By growing fresh fruits and vegetables, the entire Gregory-Lincoln community benefits from a range of events, including Garden Days, in which community members can work in the school garden, and by providing fresh produce at the upcoming Urban Harvest Kids Farmers Market on Feb. 27.
“Our school, including eight to 10 other HISD-affiliated gardens, [and] Urban Harvest come out to host the market,” Karavias said. “The students harvest, market their food, and make all of the signs. It’s all kid-run, and I tell all of the teachers and parents they are welcomed to come, but we need them behind the scenes.”
Student Samantha Zinn said she loves learning different ways to create food in creative and healthy ways while giving back to the community.
“I like culinary class because it teaches us interesting ways to prepare food, not just the normal day-to-day ‘microwave and eat’ foods,” Zinn said. “You can be creative with it, and there are a lot of possibilities.”