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Haute lunch ladies: Denver chefs infiltrate Denver Public Schools

Vegetable cacciatore? Check.

Lemon roasted chicken with pesto? Consider it done.

While chicken nuggets will likely remain the most popular choice among the elementary school set, cafeteria staff at Denver Public Schools are learning how to prepare finer foods for students who will again fill cafeterias this fall.

Chefs from Denver restaurants are in the midst of a three-week program with Denver Public Schools called "Back to the Future with Scratch Cooking," which aims "to improve DPS's school meal programs by eliminating more processed food items and cooking with produce from school gardens, when available."

Westword photo intern Johnny Molfetta was at Henry World School this week for its "raw meats class" and brings back these photos. Chef Adam Fisher, formerly of Project Angel Heart, was the visiting chef.

From left: John Torbert, Margarita Lopez, and Angelique Bravo from the DPS Culinary Techniques Program, pose for a quick snapshot in between demonstrations. They're just a few of the 120 students who will continue their training upon graduation, in July.
From left: John Torbert, Margarita Lopez, and Angelique Bravo from the DPS Culinary Techniques Program, pose for a quick snapshot in between demonstrations. They're just a few of the 120 students who will continue their training upon graduation, in July.

Angelique Bravo helps prepare one of her group dishes for presentation, a vegetable cacciatore served over whole wheat pasta. All the vegetables will be grown in each school's garden for the upcoming year.
Angelique Bravo helps prepare one of her group dishes for presentation, a vegetable cacciatore served over whole wheat pasta. All the vegetables will be grown in each school's garden for the upcoming year.

Chef Adam Fisher oversees a group preparing tomorrow's menu. Chef Fisher reported that "everyone's getting the hang of it and things are running smoothly." The program has been introduced in the Denver Public Schools as a three-year implementation.
Chef Adam Fisher oversees a group preparing tomorrow's menu. Chef Fisher reported that "everyone's getting the hang of it and things are running smoothly." The program has been introduced in the Denver Public Schools as a three-year implementation.

Area supervisor, Dennis Ralph, watches as food service workers, Graciela Sanchez and Zayla Zak, present beef and cheese nachos, lemon roasted chicken and cheese quiche. All the beef is grass-fed.
Area supervisor, Dennis Ralph, watches as food service workers, Graciela Sanchez and Zayla Zak, present beef and cheese nachos, lemon roasted chicken and cheese quiche. All the beef is grass-fed.

A fresh fruit display that will be a new feature of this year's breakfast and lunch menu.
A fresh fruit display that will be a new feature of this year's breakfast and lunch menu.

Food service workers finish their vegetarian chili.
Food service workers finish their vegetarian chili.

All the groups gather for a taste test of the day's efforts. Fresh salad, cornbread, muffins, and homemade biscuits are just some of the sides that students will get to choose from come fall.
All the groups gather for a taste test of the day's efforts. Fresh salad, cornbread, muffins, and homemade biscuits are just some of the sides that students will get to choose from come fall.

Chicken breasts await a touch of pesto before the dish becomes lemon roasted chicken.
Chicken breasts await a touch of pesto before the dish becomes lemon roasted chicken.

Multi-site manager, Rosa Martinez, watches as her group discuses the day's accomplishments and tomorrow's menu.
Multi-site manager, Rosa Martinez, watches as her group discuses the day's accomplishments and tomorrow's menu.

Chef Rita Hamburg, a recent graduate of the Nutrition Therapy Institute, has been an intricate part of the every day operations. Here, she speaks with a food service worker about the importance of mise en place.
Chef Rita Hamburg, a recent graduate of the Nutrition Therapy Institute, has been an intricate part of the every day operations. Here, she speaks with a food service worker about the importance of mise en place.