Story

Emeril Lagasse Kicks It Up a Notch at Seaside Neighborhood School

May 18, 2012 by SoWal Staff

Bam! You can't get more fresh or local than pulling veggies right out of the ground and in to the pan at the new outdoor kitchen at the Seaside Neighborhood School's Corner Garden. Chef Emeril Lagasse was on hand to break in the brand-new burners and grill as part of the school's mentoring program.

Lagasse has a foundation dedicated to helping deserving kids get fed, and helping school kids get a healthy and nutritional meal. One school where he has made his mark increased their grade scores from the 50s to the 80s thanks to better nutrition and parent involvement.

The Seaside Neighborhood School's corner garden has been around awhile but the students, staff, parents, and community have taken it to another level. After a private tour and a media session, the famous chef made a dish of grilled local Mahi Mahi with tomato-cucumber salsa, along with a salad of green beans,  radishes, rainbow chard, topped by a satsuma/herb vinaigrette.

Lagasse's live demonstration was completed by him describing the dish and then emphatically using his catchword, "better known as Bam!" Some of the lucky students and teachers then got served a meal to remember.

“He’s the first person to cook in our kitchen and we are delighted.”, said Principal Cathy Brubaker.  "We are so grateful to have him here and appreciate his love of kids and schools."

The official name of the garden and kitchen is the Seaside Community Garden and Learning Center. Some of the kitchen components were donated, and the kids raised funds by selling tiles to community members and businesses. The tiles were made at Fired Up! Paint Your Own Pottery in Seaside.

The Beginnings: a small school garden
Seaside students planted their first garden in the yard of Robert and Daryl Davis when the school opened in 1996 as part of an exploration class.  In 2007, Robert and Daryl, wanting to keep gardening alive in Seaside, gave the school permission to plant a garden on property located behind the school on Quincy Avenue.

Kim Gordon, the visionary of the garden, enlisted the help of Snookie Parrish, master gardener, and Chandra Hartman, local architect, to design the garden.  All three worked with the school’s math classes to map out the garden. Over the last several years, under the guidance of Ms. Sause, students have enjoyed learning how to plan, plant, tend and harvest vegetables, fruits and flowers. Ms. Sause prepares wonderful dishes each nine weeks for students with produce from the garden. 

Recently, students enjoyed eating squash blossoms stuffed with ricotta cheese, topped with marinara sauce, along with a small salad of vine ripe tomatoes, cucumbers, and onions. In concert with learning to prepare scrumptious dishes, students are learning how to prepare and can their own salsa and pickles. Ms. Sause’s future plans for the garden are to assist students in creating a business by selling fresh produce and canned items from the garden at the Seaside Farmers Market. Students are gaining important life skills while learning about organics, our environment, and healthy eating habits.

The Future Vision: A garden and learning center shared by all.

  • Promoting healthy eating 
  • Enhancing knowledge of "Garden to Table" (the sustainable process of growing produce from seed to cooking and serving fresh, locally-grown dishes as well as making products such as jams, jellies and sauces)
  • Incorporating a Hydroponic and Aquaponic Garden System
  • Creating an amenity that can be shared with the community for garden parties, chef demonstrations, and culinary events)
Video
Tagged

SoWal Staff's picture

SoWal Staff

Offering news, features, insider tips & info, photos and video all across the South Walton area.

Add comment
You must have Javascript enabled to use this form.