Pop-up test kitchen brings together food service staff, local produce and flavorful pairings



‘Tis the season for fall veggies. What combo will be the favorite here at Park High South, our Farm to School Academy’s pop-up test kitchen?

These Park Hill cooks came together in the kitchen to help us experiment with seasonings and prep methods for fall vegetables like potatoes, radishes, apples and squash of the delicata, butternut and acorn varieties. Their favorite recipe will be offered at the Farm to School Academy’s “Tasting Local” events next month.

“We need your help finding the easiest, best, fastest, tastiest ways to prepare these fall vegetables and make it more doable in our kitchens.” Ronda McCullick, director of Park Hill food service told the group. “Let’s try out your ideas from your own school and home kitchens.”

And the cooks delivered creative, delicious flavor pairings using herbs and seasonings.

“We don’t use salt,” one woman explained. So lively combinations like Moroccan spice acorn squash or honey rosemary apples are key in satisfying students’ tastebuds while meeting new USDA regulations for school meals.

“We’re learning a lot we can share with other districts through the Farm to School Academy,” said another Park Hill staffer.

“I commend Ronda and her staff for taking the time to do this,” says Margaret Turner, chef consultant for the Farm to School Academy. “It’s a huge help to us, and they get to have some fun and try something new.”


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Park Hill staffers note adjustments to their test recipes.


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Proper knife skills are critical for safety and ease of preparation.


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Colorful produce is as beautiful as it is tasty.


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Staffers sample their recipes and talk about possibilities.


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Test kitchen 101: Write directly on parchment to keep track of your combos. Add a smiley face.


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After the flurry of activity, there’s time to taste and chat.


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Acorn squash are an unusual sight in many school kitchens.


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Good food brings people together. Every time.


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