Chef Robert2

Robert, a 7th grade student, rushes into a Joyful Food Market after football practice on a sunny Thursday in October. Today’s market is special because it is his first as apprentice to Martha’s Table Chef Rob Patterson. Until now, Robert’s experience with cooking has mostly been a component of his very active imagination. “I cook in my head. I create my own recipes for everything,” he says. At this market, Robert is working with Chef Rob to make a sweet potato hash with apples and pears. As he carefully adds ingredients to his pan, Chef Rob teaches the budding cook terms like “al dente” and “caramelization,” and shares techniques on how to balance tart and savory flavors. Throughout the afternoon, Robert cooks with a smile on his face, and happily distributes samples to his teachers, fellow students, and families who visit the market. Once Robert finally tastes his own dish, his creative imagination kicks in again. “I want to add banana chips to this,” he tells Chef Rob. “I want to see how this hash tastes with a nice, fresh protein!” As the market comes to a close, Robert is already brainstorming what to cook at next month’s market. He suggests a hearty vegetable lasagna with spinach, green peppers, zucchini, and oregano, or whole wheat pasta with tomato sauce. “We can do anything, really,” he directs Chef Rob. “As long as it’s healthy!”

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