Chef Guillaume Pfhal has brought his passion for cooking to Conscious Kitchen since 2015. Having served hundreds of thousands of meals across the Sausalito Marin City School District throughout the years, Chef G is an expert on getting students passionate about FLOSN (fresh, local, organic, seasonal, nutritious) food. His mission is to create a supportive and inclusive community for students that is centered around FLOSN food. While this is an amazing goal for an Executive Chef, satisfying the palates of hundreds of kids of different ages and backgrounds can be a tricky task.
Chef G emphasizes how important it is to listen to kids and really get to know their food preferences. He appreciates that every child is unique and most familiar and accustomed to the specific dishes and flavors they eat at home. In order to make meals that excite students, Chef G prepares dishes they know and love with FLOSN ingredients. For instance, round pizza is more appealing to kids than the square pizza that is often served in schools due to its more familiar look. Additionally, switching out penne pasta for spaghetti has made pasta marinara a favorite because kids prefer long noodles. Who would’ve thought something as simple as pasta shapes could make such a huge difference? Another tried-and-true trick up his sleeve is to give his dishes fun names to make the food more exciting!
Chef G ensures FLOSN meals are packed with fruits and veggies by “hiding” them in dishes. He makes a nacho cheese sauce with garnet sweet potatoes in order to mimic the artificial orange color that kids typically associate with cheese – but in a healthy and nutritious way! Sauces can be easily supplemented with veggies, an easy hack to boost a meal with extra nutrients. Many kids are resistant to fruit with bruises or brown spots, so Chef G saves them from going to waste by using these “ugly” (and sweet!) fruits in muffins and smoothies.
We are so grateful to know and work with Guillaume, and to have his support in nourishing the minds and bodies of our next generation. His tips yield incredible success in getting students excited about FLOSN foods and can be utilized by fellow Food Service Directors, chefs and parents alike. Like what you read below? Try out one of Chef G’s tips? Share with us by tagging @ConsciousKitchn on Instagram or sending us an email to email@example.com!
Chef G’s Top Tips:
- Make nacho cheese sauce! Use garnet sweet potatoes to make it the orange color they associate with artificially-colored nacho cheese.
- Pasta shapes matter! Serve pasta the kids know and thus will eat. Changing penne to spaghetti made pasta marinara a favorite!
- Serve jelly with breakfast sandwiches! For most kids, breakfast is sweet. Adding half a teaspoon of jelly for kids to dip sandwiches can make all the difference — and parallels a popular fast food chain!
- Give food fun names! Calling fresh orange wedges “orange smiles” brings a smile to everyone’s face. “Hulk muffins” give nutrient-packed green muffins a whole new level of appeal!
- Round pizza wins! Kids think of pizza as either a round pie or a slice. Square shapes don’t appeal to them, even if freshly baked on trays, but English muffins or rolls (ideally from a local bakery!) do the trick.
- Offer all condiments on the side! Some kids like their food plain and others like it covered in sauce/BBQ/ketchup/mustard. Let them have it their way!
- Purée to make ‘refried’ beans! Refried beans are familiar to kids. Puréeing beans and vegetables is a great way to offer that familiar look and feel, while getting in the veggies of the day!
- Always fortify sauces with veggies! Whether it’s gravy or marinara sauce, adding in carrots and onions and other veggies is an easy way to add nutrients.
- Scoop out zucchinis! No one likes soggy veggies. Scooping out the middle of zucchinis before slicing into half moons and roasting ensures it has a nice crunch and appealing shape.
- Make muffins with overripe bananas and / or other fruits and veggies for extra nutrients! Kids don’t eat bananas with spots, so mash up old ones to turn would-be waste into a base for sweet banana muffins.
- Blend up smoothies with ‘ugly’ fruit! Whether it arrives slightly imperfect or browns quickly, kids too often reject ‘ugly’ produce whole. So chop it up and toss perfectly good fruit to save on money and waste!