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Freshness,The first Criterion
  1. Thanksgiving 2013

    November 27, 2013 by Chef Danny

    This year I gave the district’s culinary team a balanced road map and let them come up with the final  Thanksgiving menu for our district. I wanted to see how far that part of the creative skill set has come. When you have a holiday that is submerged deeply in tradition it is actually harder to present and spark an idea that is off center. We have to respect the basic ingredient’s  but flair the presentation in small ways.

    This year we served a little over 800 meals in our district. The hurdle is shear numbers and timing. The culinary team stepped up with help from locals and students. I would like to Thank Dow Stewart. Every year Dow shows up and volunteers at LES to do dishes For 480+ students and staff .Dow thank you very much.

    Parents and grandparents eat the school lunch on this day. Everyone I talked too after or during the meal loved it. We are making a difference as a team. The town of Salida ,and various groups in our community are the backbone for this program to succeed and be able to sustain itself.

    My only suggestion of my team was to take a desert and garnish and create . The end product was a won ton wrapper baked and filled with a single cream, flavored cheese and topped with cranberries and orange zest. It was beautiful and complemented the plates.

    The team also made a pumpkin Chantilly brownie. This is the only simple sugar dessert we do in our district on a yearly basis.

    We are a proud group in the kitchen and the passion shines through everyday, even on days that will have a stronger than usual amount of stress. The districts culinary team handled it with flying colors.

     


  2. The time is Near

    October 30, 2013 by Chef Danny

    green schools summit logo

     

     

     

    On November 8th, I have the great pleasure of introducing and helping other school districts put a culinary/ garden to cafeteria program into the thought process of the architects, builders, project managers , superintendents owners representatives and all the professionals it take to plan direct and build green schools . This will take place at the University of Denver at the International Green Schools Summit .   The 7th annual Green Schools Summit provides a unique opportunity for open dialogue between K-12 stakeholders, policy makers, and the green building industry professionals.

    I have been asked to present Salidas culinary program and give other districts some of the goals and objectives along with glory moments and of course what hurdles we’ve had to date.

    There has been a lot of talk from other presenters on this subject for last few years and the point is getting across. I have attended and read up on most of these types of presentation and I find that they have the basic construction of any good story teller. Of course they all start off with a hook to drag the listener in kicking and screaming. There is a always a fear factor with extreme examples of what is wrong. For my presentations ,I am going about it in a different way.

    My presentation will not be based on what is wrong with the NSLP , we already know what is wrong. I will present in a very positive light and not bring fear or turmoil into Salidas program. This is how I have approached this change throughout my job as chef for our students.

    Of course there are hurdles that will show there ugly heads every now and then. I think the proof of a true professional is when the stress of change shows itself  ,things remain steady and focused. This is how I teach my team to handle these situations.

    Below is a link to the Summit:

    http://www.usgbccolorado.org/green-buildings/greenschoolsummit.html

    I will represent the forward thinking and positive future in education and nutrition for our students. It should be a fun presentation and I feel fortunate to represent Salida on this level of the future. Ill keep you posted.

     

     


  3. Exciting Start to 2013/14

    September 12, 2013 by Chef Danny

    Roasted Pueblo chilies and mango tomato Pico adorn our salad bars throughout the districts cafeterias this week and the kids really enjoy the colors and flavors they are being introduced to.

    I  witnessed another level of culinary skill from the food service team in the last couple of weeks.

    When a new boss comes in and has a vision you wonder when you will see it take hold. Last year my team welcomed my ideas and goals with open arms and asked many questions about the culinary world. I never had any doubt about their passion for the nutrition of our kids. The last couples of weeks I’ve witnessed the culinary skill sets expand. Walking around the districts kitchens makes me proud of the food service staff. They are now thinking on their feet about how they can better the food, use fresher products and present them with a visual that pops when our students come through the lines.

    A lot of hard work goes into this transformation. When you see it start to pay off, all the long hours are worth the effort. I will attach some photos that have been taken in the last couple of weeks from our cafeterias. I am truly appreciative to everyone on the food service  team for the passion, desire and growing skills they are working so hard on.  The beneficiaries are the students and staff.

    On another note, what an honor to be recognized by Livewell Chaffee County as the HEAL champion for the month of September. This is the kind of recognition   that gives our team a tool that will help guide us in our ultimate goal of better nutrition in our schools, as I’ve always said there is no set bar to reach because the learning process in food evolves.

    I have been asked to do a presentation and follow up questions for the International Summit for Green Schools. It is a huge honor to be asked to speak at this Summit. The attendees will come from around the globe. It also tells us that our efforts in the districts kitchens are not going un noticed. I will be presenting on November 8th at University of Denver. I am really excited and will post more on this as I get more information.

    This is not a one man show and I have a great people working with me. The food service team makes this come together. When you see a food service staff member from the school district please, thank them.

    Glenda Noah

    Glenda Noah

    Amy Dunn

    Amy Dunn

    Melanie Lipscomb

    Melanie Lipscomb

    Patricia Hoagland

    Patricia Hoagland

    Wendi Chrestensen

    Wendi Chrestensen

    Debbie Micklich

    Debbie Micklich

    Kelly Phillips

    Kelly Phillips

    Georgia Yeager

    Georgia Yeager

    IMG_0141

    Carrie Cahill

     


  4. New School Year in Food Service

    August 26, 2013 by Chef Danny

    The new school year is exciting in the food service for our district, staff and students. It was very nice to have 99.9% of my team come back for another year. Jackie Massaro retired after many years in the district and I will miss her as she was a very big part of  last years accomplishments.  We hired Patricia Hoagland to fill the void left behind  at the High School Cafeteria. She is fitting in with professionalism that is unsurpassed. Patricia is very friendly and is already getting to know the students that eat breakfast and lunch with us every day.

    The start is always a little crazy but with a team like I have it has been a pleasure putting this year together.

    I have heard a couple of very positive comments that I need to address in the blog. I had a parent speak to me while I was shopping.  She was impressed that we are using only organic meat and no processed food in the district. As much as we strive to better the nutrition of our  students ,staff and the families of Salida there is no way we can claim either of those. We will always strive for better food but to say we are only organic and process free is a little over the top.

    I have been a chef for many, many years and to say any food establishment is process free is almost impossible and not to mention expensive. My vision for this food service is to teach cooking in a positive  direction with the mindset that we can always do better  for our students.

    The strides we’ve made in the nutrition of our students is not in question but a bit of clarity needs to be established when I get these kind of comments.

    I announced recently at one of many meetings that when we serve our students chicken tacos, stir fry,  any shredded or pulled chicken the meat comes from Red Bird Farms. Red Bird Farms is located just east of the Greely /Fort Collins area and is one of the first commercial organic chicken farms in Colorado.  It along with many other companies are pricing some of there products for the use in schools. When Mike Mendocino brought a sample and price list to me to try, it was simply a great product at an even better price. Mike is proving that rethinking the food in schools is not just the  job of the district but the community and professionals like him. Thanks Mike!!!

    Another topic in that meeting was the entitlement commodity that we and every district in the nation receives from the federal government. Commodity food has become a scary word in the last few year because of the amounts of highly processed food  school districts order. My comment was that   this year I ordered no food item from commodities that was processed. Everything I ordered was in a raw state. Fortunately I am a chef and know how to handle food in a raw state. We then minimally process it for our kids. We all have to realize how much food is used in a school district on a daily basis. Too feed,  in our case 750-800 kids a day the amounts are huge. Imagine the big districts that feed 100′s of thousands of kids a day. For instance New York City feeds 800+ thousand students a day. That’s a lot of food. There is a place for commodities. We here in Salida serve a lot of food. But we have a leg up in that our families are teaching the students of our town how to eat good nutritious food.  We have organizations like Live Well and Guide Stone that give us direction and have really focused our community on the issue of better nutrition. We as a school district have partnered with these folks and our School board and especially our Superintendent Mr. Darryl Webb are 100% in tandem with the direction of the food service. It takes all the little parts of this puzzle to make a sustainable program work. A community like Salida and Chaffee County should be proud. I know the foodservice will  keep looking forward and insure better nutrition for our children and community as a whole.

    If I can answer these or any questions concerning the Foodservice program in our district please don’t hesitate to email me or call. dquinto@salidaschools.org or 530-5433

     

    Below are some picture of from the Garden to Cafeteria program this  year. So far it has been wonderful.

    IMG_0127

    Fresh Garlic Onions and Basil From Our Holman Street garden
    Picture by Glenda Valdez

     

    IMG_0125

    Center of The plate/ WW Penne with Roated Pork, garlic and Tomtoe Sauce,
    Picture by Glenda Vaaldez

    20130820_123450

    LES Salad bar With an array of freshness for Our Kids grades K-4
    Picture by Georgia Yeager

     

     


  5. 2013-14 Free and Reduced Application

    July 31, 2013 by Chef Danny

    I have written about this in the past and will do so in the future because its that important.  I have been working on and emailing the Free and Reduced Applications (FRA) to all the schools and personal that will play a big roll in registration for next year. We cant open the FRA’s to the families of our students until July 19.

    With the change of venue and way we prepare food FRA’s really , really benitfit our kids. If you have ever thought about using this program I strongly suggest you fill out the form. Its a one page form that only I as the Food service authority see’s. I than input the information into a CDE program and they make a decision whether your children are eligible for Free meals or Reduced meals. The reduced price is $.40. If you think about what goes into a typicle lunch tray for .40 its simply the best deal in the country for our kids. You’ve seen pictures of lunch trays on this web blog throughout the year and I can tell you there is no more professional cooking standards used or love put into those standards then in our district.

    The forms are laid out very simply with  only 4 areas to fill out. I can help you and all it will take is phone call to me .As we get closer to next year I hope to get as many of our kids in this program as possible. Its so important to know the kids are getting a nutritious meal while they are in school. FRA’s also help our county and district into more benefits for the students. I encourage everyone to spread the news that this food program is worth the time for our kids so please fill out the form and if you need help give me a call.

    Chef Danny Quinto 530-5433

    13-14CHILD NUTRITION PROGRAM FORMS.docFor blog


  6. New Venture

    July 23, 2013 by Chef Danny

    A good summer resulted in to a new idea that sprang up while sharpening my knives. I have always enjoyed putting an edge on a blade and it has been really hard to find someone that understands the concept of correct culinary angle and process of cold water on different grade stones. I have been sharpening for a few people and places  for a couple of years and decided to take it a one step more.

    The name of my new venture is A Chefs Edge. Although I can sharpen a lot of different kinds of blades I really enjoy taking a knife and forming the perfect 40 degree bevel on it. There are a couple of pages at the top of this blog page that will give you instructions on how you can mail your knives to me or if you live in the town of Salida I can pick up and deliver. If you have questions feel free to call me or email me at  [email protected]      719-221-0832. Give me a try and your knives will love you for it.


  7. Last of The Commodity Entitlement for this year

    April 22, 2013 by Chef Danny

    I was surprised when the second week of April came and  we got a huge commodity order. I really thought I had gotten the last of it for this year.  I have made the final menus with these products in mind. You will notice in the May Menu I am only making two weeks of set food items. The last two weeks will be chef’s choice. This gives all the kitchens a chance to use up any thing they have in the freezer and dry store so when we are finished for the year we’re at a minimal.

    As for the commodity for next year . I made my order for next year .Everything I ordered was either in the raw state or fresh. Next year we will start the food service program 100% me and my cooks. I will have all control of what we feed our kids.

    This was successful but there was always that commodity from the past hanging over our heads. I want to also really concentrate on breakfast and get all our children fed before class. This is vitally important for a successful morning of learning. I cant do this alone and will need the help of teachers , admin along with the food-service to get this done with sustainability

    So , thanks for being patient with us and I really appreciate the compliments I get whenI see people out and about. We are accomplishing our goals and objectives.


  8. Free and Reduced Applications

    April 16, 2013 by Chef Danny

    I have written about this in the past and will do so in the future because its that important.  I have been working on and emailing the Free and Reduced Applications (FRA) to all the schools and personal that will play a big roll in registration for next year. We cant open the FRA’s to the families of our students until July 19.

    With the change of venue and way we prepare food FRA’s really , really benitfit our kids. If you have ever thought about using this program I strongly suggest you fill out the form. Its a one page form that only I as the Food service authority see’s. I than input the information into a CDE program and they make a decision whether your children are eligible for Free meals or Reduced meals. The reduced price is $.40. If you think about what goes into a typicle lunch tray for .40 its simply the best deal in the country for our kids. You’ve seen pictures of lunch trays on this web blog throughout the year and I can tell you there is no more professional cooking standards used or love put into those standards then in our district.

    The forms are laid out very simply with  only 4 areas to fill out. I can help you and all it will take is phone call to me .As we get closer to next year I hope to get as many of our kids in this program as possible. Its so important to know the kids are getting a nutritious meal while they are in school. FRA’s also help our county and district into more benefits for the students. I encourage everyone to spread the news that this food program is worth the time for our kids so please fill out the form and if you need help give me a call.

    Chef Danny Quinto 530-5433

    13-14CHILD NUTRITION PROGRAM FORMS.docFor blog

     


  9. Everyone likes Spagetti Day

    April 10, 2013 by Chef Danny

    Mr. Kyle Knickerbocker goes through the lunch line at The High school with a  tray of Spagetti and  meatballs , Lemon green beans and WW  Baugette on his way to the salad and fruit bar.

    Spagetti is a favorite day for lunch at Salida Schools. 

     

     

     


  10. Good Rookie Year

    April 9, 2013 by Chef Danny

    April 2013 Calendar

    It has been a good rookie year for me. Adjusting from the private /hotel sector to a school setting kept me up  some nights but for the most part it went well. The food service team really helped me out and kept our students fed using the best ingrediants we could afford.

     One of the biggest concerns I heard was the portions size. I agree that the federal government has cut the portions back a little to much but if we can offer goodness in fresh fruits, produce and salads the student should take advantage of this. And, they do. I am impressed with the trays of food I see come through the lunch line. We are in our second part of a two year program that will get our foodservice to the culinary level I have envisioned. Im really proud of the team, everyone is really trying to feed our kids better. As long as the will is in place we will get the job accomplished and the end result will be better food for the student body and staff.

    Cool Letter from CDE!!!!!

     

    Danny: 

     

    Jane Brand has asked me to contact you regarding a presentation she will be making at the 2013 Healthy School Summit on April 17, 2013.  Jane will be using some of the information and slides you presented in your power point presentation at the 2013 Directors’ Conference.  She wants to highlight your district, and specifically your multiple uses of the USDA recipe for 51% whole grain bread, your pizza, and your pumpkin soufflé (where you are teaching new skills to your cook staff.)  If you could provide Jane with talking points, historical information, etc.  from your presentation, she would like to incorporate these into her presentation. Jane is the director of the CDE office of School Nutrtion.

     This is a great honor to be used as an example . 34 schools recieved some of this grant money for a healthier way of feeding our kids and a better lifstyle. Salida is  the example out of the 34 schools . We have all worked hard to change the way we think and it is proving we are making a differance. In the end the ones who benefit the most are our students and the healthy future that lays ahead .