Chef Carlin Breinig: My Journey so Far
June 4, 2010, I attended the kickoff on the South Lawn of the Whitehouse for Chefs Move to Schools. I was invited because I was a member of Women Chefs and Restaurateurs and I was a local exchange coordinator for Atlanta.
I was one of about 1,000 chefs on the lawn listening to Mrs. Obama and Sam Kass. I was very excited to be involved. I wasn’t sure what I would or could do as a self-employed personal chef, but I signed up on the website, found a school in my area and met with Mrs. Purwin, a teacher at the school in July 2010.
We decided to start an after school cooking club and Mrs. Purwin (Maria) explained that since this was middle school we would not get any 8th grade students because “they were too cool.”
Maria sent a notice out at school, we hoped we’d get interest from 25 students, but we had 90 sign up! Maria had some kind of lottery and we got our 25 students. We also decided to open it up each semester for new students since there was so much interest.
The first two years the club met in the science room – fire proof desks, fire suppression system and a sink. We had 90 to 100 students sign up each semester.
Yes, it is fun, yes, it is hard work.
After two years in the science room, the cafeteria manager and the principal were comfortable letting us use the school kitchen.
We also had a guest chef one month, Dr. Avossa, superintendent of Fulton County Schools, who made pasta for everyone.
I had excellent help from Mrs. Purwin, also from three other teachers at the school and one mom who volunteered every month. I did this as a volunteer effort and supplied everything each month. It’s important to me to give back.
After about a year of volunteering, I received an email asking about what I was doing as part of Chefs Move to Schools. I responded and in April of 2011, received a letter inviting me to Washington DC to discuss the program with several other chefs, Sam Kass and the USDA. I was part of the Champions of Change.
I met Sam Kass:
Undersecretary Kevin Colcannon with the USA for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services.
Since we had time in the halls waiting to get the video done, I chatted with some of the other chefs. That led me to meet Chef Cyndie Story http://www.chefcyndie.com/ who thought we could work together. She does consulting with schools. I worked with her for the first time in summer 2011 and have been part of her team since then.
I went to a class about Chefs Move to Schools in Oxford, Mississippi at National Food Service Management Institute and heard about a new program Healthy Cuisine for Kids. I applied for that training, took the training and became a trainer, teaching my first class in January 2015.
I am having a wonderful time working to feed kids food that is healthy and tasty and have found a new career path in doing so. I am still a personal chef, but am also a consultant with Chef Cyndie and a trainer with NFSMI.
I am speaking at School Nutrition conferences, the next one is Nevada June 2015 and the Utah July 2015. I am training with NFSMI at the end of July. All from a meeting with 1000 chefs on the lawn of the Whitehouse and a middle school after school cooking club.