Creative, healthy cooking marks EFNEP's anniversary in Tulare County

Jul 9, 2019

EFNEP, UC Cooperative Extension's Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program, partnered with Culinary Arts Program in Tulare County to celebrate EFNEP's 50th anniversary. Chef Jeff, who is leading the Culinary Arts Program, sponsored and conducted a two-hour workshop in May 2019 for EFNEP parents, with a focus on basic cooking principles. The participants learned how to make and tasted a creative grilled salad.

The parents had just completed the EFNEP Eat Smart ● Be Active nutrition education series at Tulare Adult School. Mariana Lopez, a bilingual nutrition educator, led the EFNEP classes from March 19 to May 21. Ten participants completed the series and graduated. The graduates expressed interest in a cooking workshop. Deepa Srivastava, the UC Cooperative Extension nutrition, family and consumer sciences advisor, reached out to Chef Jeff to initiate this collaboration and Lopez coordinated efforts to organize the cooking workshop.

The starter

Chef Jeff started the workshop by introducing his culinary program. He shared cooking methodology and the use of "mother sauces," basic sauces that serve as a bases for flavoring different dishes. All participants had great questions for the chef, which indicated their interest in learning more about the measurements, ingredients and the application of "hot and cold" cooking techniques.

The main course

EFNEP participants learned the art and science of putting together a healthy vinaigrette and grilled salad. In this process, Chef Jeff provided information about the importance of food safety and sanitation, knife skills, cutting and chopping, and healthy salad ingredients. He demonstrated how to wash, cut and chop variety of vegetables followed by grilling the vegetables on the stove top. Participants loved the taste of the colorful grilled vegetables. Additionally, Chef Jeff explained the many creative ways to eat grilled vegetables, including lettuce wraps. Participants were mesmerized to see him create a rose from sliced tomatoes.

The dessert

Icing on the cake was the take-home message and the potential for a long-term collaboration between EFNEP and Tulare Culinary Arts Program. The two-hour workshop was packed with cooking knowledge, skills and creativity. Participants' meaningful comments about the workshop included, “it was fun, creative, and new information.”

“I really enjoyed taking part of this special collaboration between our Tulare EFNEP Program and the Tulare Culinary Arts program with Chef Jeff," Lopez said. "It gave me the opportunity to connect with my participants in a more personal level, because I was also a participant — learning and taking with me fun and exciting tips to share in my classes with my food demos as well as in my home with my family's meals.”

The workshop ended with the chef happily packing grilled salad for participants to take home. Indeed, Chef Jeff inspired participants to cook healthy with fun and creativity!