Nutrition Services Takes Part in Hands-on Training

Nutrition Services Takes Part in Hands-on Training
Posted on 01/27/2023

MVSD's Nutrition Services team is dedicated to providing nutritious and tasty meals, as well as excellent service to the District’s 4,900 students.  To enhance their skills, team members recently took part in hands-on training provided by Brigaid, a company of experienced chefs dedicated to supporting institutional food service programs.  


Held in the Central Kitchen at Twin Lakes School, the three-day training provided team members the opportunity to refresh their culinary and safety skills and also included food demonstrations, knife work, units and measures of dry and liquid ingredients, food quality in scratch cooked meals, effective workstation set-up, proper handling of raw protein, recipe and menu development, and kitchen organization. 


Working with Brigaid’s expert chefs, team members rotated through three stations each day, learning and perfecting techniques and preparing meals including fried rice with tofu, smashed cucumber salad, chili and cornbread, fruit smoothies, chicken alfredo, kale Caesar salad and an amped up PB&J. 


According to Brenda Zarate, MVSD’s Director of Nutrition Services, the training will enable the department to expand its culturally diverse meal offerings and develop and implement an employee engagement plan to increase staff morale. 


“The training was wonderful and very comprehensive,” said Zarate.  “While our team members are well-versed in nutrition and meal prep, it’s always great to refresh and enhance our skills. Over the three days we all learned new things and really enjoyed preparing the meals from scratch.”


From homemade salad dressing to the best peanut butter and jelly sandwich they’ve ever had, the group created some amazing dishes to enjoy.


“This was a great refresher course and everyone enjoyed it,” said Kathy Perez, Central Kitchen Manager at Payne School.  “The training was very beneficial and we’ve learned great tips we can implement in our school kitchens.”


In addition to being awesome, Nelson Guerra, a Cook 1 at Payne School felt the training was very eye-opening.


“It was great to see how we can serve a broader spectrum of food for our kids so their pallets can be open to different types of foods,” said Guerra.  “The meals we prepared with the chefs were something I myself wouldn’t have thought could be served at a school, but it was very nice to see we can serve restaurant quality food to our kids and they will love it.”


According to Anna Angel, Central Kitchen Manager at Twin Lakes School the team learned a lot of things from the chefs during the training, some which was a review of what they already do, and some of it was new information like the proper tools to use to measure liquid versus dry ingredients.


"This hands-on training was a wonderful opportunity for all of us to work side-by-side and learn together,” said Geri Lorenzana, MVSD’s Nutrition Specialist.   “We learned that preparing even something simple, such as a salad dressing from scratch can enhance a menu item."


Dan Giusti, Brigaid’s CEO is a former chef at some of the world’s top restaurants.  Recognizing that creating delicious, wholesome meals that meet nutrition and budgetary guidelines is challenging he founded Brigaid guided by the belief that everyone deserves real, wholesome food, cooked with care and passion.


“In the school setting, when students have access to good food at their school they are more likely to attend, have an easier time concentrating, perform better in their classes, and often feel safer,” said Giusti.  “Our on-the-job training empowers food service staff with the skills needed to consistently prepare and serve high-quality menu items while meeting meal requirements and maintaining a well-ordered, professional kitchen.”


MVSD’s Nutrition Services team looks forward to implementing what they’ve learned and incorporating more scratch cooked meals on the breakfast and lunch menus as they strive to improve the quality of food served to students each day. 


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