Chefs Promote Healthy Choices in School

March 13, 2015

by Jay Hobson

Chefs Nicole Barriera, wearing a pink chef’s coat, and Megan Robinson, attired in her bright green chef’s jacket, both visited Pelham Elementary School last Thursday, treating any child who wanted one to a lettuce and chicken wrap.  The colorful duo were there to promote healthy food choices as part of National Nutrition Month.

Barriera and Robinson, friends since college at Southern New Hampshire University, both work for the T-Bones and Cactus Jack chain of restaurants based in Bedford, which are part of the Great N.H. Restaurant Group.  Barriera, with 10 years, is the corporate chef, while Robinson, with four years at the chain, is the catering director.

The wrap, called an Asian chicken lettuce wrap, consists of a lettuce leaf sprinkled with shredded carrot, scallions, chow mein noodles, grilled chicken warmed in sesame seed oil and splashed with a little teriyaki sauce.  The lettuce, Barriera said, was hydroponically grown.

At the end of lunch, the children who tried the dish were asked to raise their hand if they liked it; almost every hand shot skyward.

Pelham School District Nutrition Services Director Kelly Rambeau said that about 500 students are served daily at the school.

“We were here last year, and Chef Megan and I do a lot with teaching kids to eat healthfully,“ Barriera explained. “We travel around the state and do a lot of demonstrations for the kids like Girl Scout groups.  We just did a big event called the Great N.H. Kids Can Cook, so we really enjoy working with the little kids and teaching them to create a positive experience when eating healthy.”

Cashie Landry, 9, one of the students that enjoyed the wrap, is a third grader who said she hopes to be a chef someday.

“My mom (Charity Landry, Pelham Elementary cook) cooks a lot and it’s something I also want to do,” Landry said.

Landry said that she really enjoys sushi and is willing to try most foods.

“This wrap is really good,” she said.