This past Monday, April 14, Mrs. Karen Silverman and I worked in tandem with the James Beard Foundation to host the Spoons Across America Dinner Party Project at Mark Twain I.S. 239 in Brooklyn for the second time in two years. I must say that although last years class left some pretty big shoes to fill, I had an immeasurable feeling of satisfaction, not just as a teacher, but also as a parent, because my daughter Angela is one of Mrs. Silverman’s students in this class. I was also accompanied by a team of volunteer chefs who came to help execute the mission, which was to host a formal dinner party for 120 guests that evening. The day started (for the students) at 8:00 AM with groups assigned to specific recipes.
Our menu was pretty ambitious, for a group of 7th graders, but with my team in place, I was confident that the kids would pull through. I can say in all honesty, that I was not prepared for the the terrific job they did. Chef Alejandro worked with Group 6 on the Pork Loin Roulades Stuffed with Roasted Red Peppers and Sweet Plantain Mash, Chef Pete worked with Groups 1 and 2 on the Chicken Kiev, Chef Gabriela worked with Group 3 on the Tiger Eye Rolls, the Pink Flamingo Sauce and the Caesar Salad, Chef Yamaris worked with Group 4 on the Catalan Spinach, and Coconut Panna Cotta with Tropical Fruit Brunoise, I manned the station on Group 5 to execute Julia Child’s recipe for Pomme Dauphinois, and Mrs Silverman went from group to group, helping the class wherever it was needed.
While it was no small task that was put in front of them, the kids faced their work with enthusiasm and good cheer, and everyone was well engrossed in their respective assignments in no time flat.
I have to admit that I was pretty impressed by how industrious this class was, and they were certainly a credit to Mrs. Silverman. They chopped, peeled, pureed, poured, rolled, sliced, simmered, and seared through the entire morning, before we packed the operation up and headed for the school cafeteria, where we would set up the kitchen for service and decorate the cafeteria dining room for our dinner party.
Not too shabby for a class of 7th graders, eh? Once downstairs the class set up the kitchen, and hunkered down to dress the tables with linens , practice their napkin folding techniques, place the table settings, and fill out the place cards for their guests. Mrs. Louzonis, the Art Talent teacher and her charges had, in addition to executing the invitation the class had designed, painted a beautiful backdrop featuring the countries that our menu showcased and made beautiful matching centerpieces for the tables.
When we were finished, our dining room looked like this:
Now we were ready for our party! We even had the local media come in to do interviews with the students!
Mrs. Carol Moore, Principal had our menus printed up beautifully, to be placed at each setting.
The children met their guests at the door, and our party had begun, while my kitchen ninjas worked their magic in the back. We greeted our guests with an amuse bouche of Tiger Eye Rolls and sparkling cider (would you prefer red, or white?).
As if all of this were not enough, we had musical accompaniment by Twain’s very own Mariachi Band!
Mrs. Moore introduced the Class of 7B and myself, and then…the moment of truth was at hand!
The children lined up at the service line and took out plate after plate of the meal they had been preparing all day.
Needless to say, our dinner party was a huge success! Our guests could not believe what an incredible job had been executed by 7B, who rocked that kitchen all day long. Special thanks to my crew that helped me immensely throughout the day guiding the class through the project, and of course to Mrs. Silverman and Mrs. Moore for their incredible support throughout this venture.
Chefs Pete, Gabrila, Sui-Yeng, Angela, Daisy, Yamaris and Alejandro
Mrs. Karen Silverman and Mrs. Carol Moore
and of course,