UMaine chefs show Region Two students how to serve locally grown meals
HOULTON, Maine — In the kitchen of Houlton’s Region Two School of Applied Technology, culinary students Ciera Dignan and Leana Caswell prepared a delicious apple crisp, using a mixture of Macoun and Empire red apples, oatmeal, cranberries, maple sugar, whole wheat flour and cinnamon.
The confectionary delight was one of several meals students prepared on Wednesday as part of a special training program. Students were shown how to work with locally grown food by Robert Dumas, the food science innovation coordinator at School of Food and Agriculture at the University of Maine, and Kathy Savoie, a food and nutrition educator at UMaine’s cooperative extension school.
Dumas and Davoie were visiting as part of the university’s Immersive Culinary Experience project, which had received grant funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“The primary objective is to provide agricultural literacy training for culinary art directors,” Savoie said. “Our goal is to reach as many teachers and students as we can to really help infuse agricultural education and agricultural literacy, knowing where their food comes from into the culinary arts program.”
In Dignan and Caswell’s apple crisp, almost all the ingredients, save for the cinnamon, were produced in Maine. Students were split into small groups and tasked with using locally sourced ingredients to create their own custom meals to be served and sampled.
“Chef Dumas brought all kinds of local products, all the meats, all the potatoes, veggies, spices and honey,” said Jennifer Potter, Region Two’s culinary arts instructor. “Then they [the students] got the kitchen and pantry set up, they picked what they wanted and they came up with creative dishes out of the locally sourced food.”
Nicholas Hardy, 16, and his group of culinary students made stuffed bell peppers, using Maine-sourced beef and barley in addition to the locally grown peppers.
“It was very fun, and educational,” Hardy said. “I thought it was a very good experience.”