The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

January 17, 2014

Farm to School set to jump-start Cast-Iron Cookoff

By Jessica Farrish
Register-Herald Reporter

— West Virginia students will join the region’s top chefs at The Greenbrier resort this afternoon for the West Virginia Farm to School Showcase.

Partners in the Farm to School collaborative will sponsor a showcase featuring students, teachers and local farmers from across West Virginia who have successfully implemented the Farm to School program in their counties and schools.

The showcase will jump-start the Cast-Iron Cook-off, a competition among chefs, including Kris Siuta of Raleigh General Hospital and Lawrence Poli of Smokey’s on the Gorge in Fayetteville.

The chefs will use local ingredients to cook up authentic, regional dishes — the kinds of dishes that Farm to School strives to bring to schools through the use of local vegetables and fruits, grown by public school students and local farmers.

“This is the first time the Farm to School collaborative has decided to really step out there and say, ‘Look at all the great things that are happening in the schools right now,’” said Liza Cordeiro, executive director of the West Virginia Department of Education’s communications office. “We’ll have students and food service directors at the showcase.”

The Cast-Iron Cookoff seemed a natural way to showcase schools’ progress in using fresh, natural, locally grown food, said Cordeiro.

“A lot of the chefs will tell you the best food will come from ingredients that are freshly harvested,” said Cordeiro. “So it only made sense for us to go ahead and be part of the overall competitions. We’re exposing our kids to some of these renowned chefs from around West Virginia.”

Kids in West Virginia schools are eating more fresh foods and vegetables than in the past, she added.

An agricultural class at Liberty High School in Raleigh County recently grew enough corn for the Liberty cooks to use in school lunches.

“Our schools have work-ed really hard to implement the Farm to School program,” said Cordeiro. “There are more fresh foods.

“We’re getting fresh cooking, and not just heating up,” she added. “We want to really feature that success.”

The Farm to School Showcase will be from 2 to 4 p.m. today at The Greenbrier.

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