It’s a story to warm any chef’s heart.
“What Indian restaurant did you buy these pitas from?” a Relay for Life walker originally from New Delhi, India, asked the Peterson Middle School culinary student who had served him dinner. “This is the most authentic Indian food I’ve had in the United States.”
“We made the pitas with Master Chef Sir Roy,” said the student.
“Ah, the chef must be from India…Please open up a restaurant soon!” the walker said, heading off around the track at Buchser Middle School’s Townsend Field.
In a creative partnership to fight cancer through diet, about a dozen culinary students from Peterson Middle School and Wilcox High School collaborated with knighted master chef Sir Roy Salazar to prepare and serve a cancer-fighting dinner for the 360 walkers in the American Cancer Society’s 2011 Santa Clara Relay for Life May 14.
A whole wheat pita bread half was partially filled with an Indian cabbage, carrot, and shallot coleslaw then topped with bite-sized tandoori chicken chunks for the hand-held main course. Salazar’s personal blend of Indian spices and other seasonings included garlic cloves, garam masala (a ground spice mixture), mustard seed, cumin, fresh ginger, turmeric, chili powder, Serrano chilies, yogurt and lime juice. The other pita half was a hand-held dessert fruit basket of apple and banana slices in a honey and water mixture topped with powdered sugar.
The meal, which Salazar planned and the students prepared at their schools, contained ten cancer-fighting ingredients, was portable for those who didn’t want to stop walking the track long enough to eat, saved on tableware, and was, by reported account, authentically Indian as well as healthful and tasty.
“This provided the kids an opportunity to demonstrate their skills, give service, and educate the public about culinary careers. The students showed that a healthful meal can look and taste great,” says Peterson Middle School chef teacher Kelly Villarreal, who pioneered the Wilcox High School culinary arts program, now headed by Daniel Arias, before establishing a complementary program at Peterson.
Peterson students Crystal, Joi, June, Karen, Julia, and Lokahi commented enthusiastically about the cancer-fighting dinner.
“Cooking healthy food is always our focus. It keeps us fit.”
“Most people think healthy food tastes bad, but they need to try it.”
“I have a lot of family members who have and had cancer.”
We are so excited to have this wonderful opportunity for our students. Thanks to University Electric, [which sponsored the dinner], our students had another chance to work with Chef Sir Roy Salazar and use their skills to serve the community. It’s a great partnership!” says Tabitha E. Kappeler-Hurley, Public Information Officer & Coordinator of Career Technical Education (CTE) for the Santa Clara Unified School District.
The Peterson and Wilcox culinary students are part of the CTE Culinary Hospitality and Management Preparation program (CHAMP) in which students develop culinary skills and, in some cases, go on to careers in the culinary field.
“The students are awesome, so professional and true chefs and humanitarians,” says Salazar. “For any teenager to give up Saturday to make 800 pitas—wow! That’s pretty incredible.”
Salazar joined University Electric Home Appliance Center as culinary project manager/director in January. Contact Salazar to arrange for a cooking demonstration at University Electric, 1500 Martin Avenue, Santa Clara, (408) 496-0500, http://www.universityelectric.com/. You can even purchase Salazar’s special Indian spice blend and make the cancer-fighting Relay for Life pita dinner for yourself.