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Chef Emeril Lagasse's Foundation Launches Education Program

Emeril's Culinary Garden & Teaching Kitchen offers ground-to-plate curriculum to empower children.

Emeril Lagasse Foundation recently announcesd the launch of Emeril's Culinary Garden & Teaching Kitchen, a national education initiative created to enrich the lives of elementary and middle school children through a fun, fresh perspective on food. The program fully integrates culinary gardens and teaching kitchens in schools as interactive learning environments.

Through a unique curriculum developed by a national task force of educators, culinary professionals and farm-to-school experts, schools are provided with grade-level standards for gardening and cooking classes that are not only integrated across all core subjects but also aligned with national academic standards. The curriculum uses more than 100 of Chef Emeril's recipes that have been modified for the classroom.

Emeril's Culinary Garden & Teaching Kitchen is the vision of Chef Emeril Lagasse and his wife, Alden. Since they established the Emeril Lagasse Foundation in 2002, the Foundation has granted more than $10 million to children's charities that provide culinary, nutrition and arts education. While those efforts will remain a cornerstone of the Foundation's mission, the creation of Emeril's Culinary Garden & Teaching Kitchen will allow the Foundation to broaden its reach and make a direct, lasting impact on youth in America.

Emeril's Culinary Garden & Teaching Kitchen uses four key pillars to guide implementation. The program seeks to provide an appreciation for the source of food, understanding of nutrition and the importance of healthy eating habits, the development of life skills and development of culinary skills.

Many schools, particularly those in underserved communities, lack the resources to develop fully integrated programs that feature both gardens and kitchens. The program provides financial support for schools to enhance their existing gardens to become inspiring outdoor classrooms and to expand programming by building a teaching kitchen for hands-on instruction. The program also provides a K-8 garden and cooking curriculum, teacher training on how to integrate the curriculum with academic subjects, and other resources to run the program effectively.

The program is currently being established at the first school in Florida, with other schools in California, Louisiana, Nevada, Texas and Washington, D.C., under consideration. The Foundation's goal is to have the program implemented and running in at least 10 schools by 2023.

Schools interested in applying for a grant to implement Emeril's Culinary Garden & Teaching Kitchen can learn more about the application process here. Corporations or individuals interested in supporting the program can learn more here.

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Founded in 2002 by Chef Emeril Lagasse and his wife Alden, Emeril Lagasse Foundation is headquartered in New Orleans. The Foundation's mission is to create opportunities to inspire, mentor and enable youth to reach their full potential through culinary, nutrition and arts education with a focus on life skills development. Since its inception, Emeril Lagasse Foundation has granted more than $10 million to several children's charities to support culinary, nutrition and arts programs. The Foundation was recognized as the 2016 Nonprofit of the Year by Louisiana Association of Non-Profit Organizations. To learn more about the Foundation and its beneficiaries, visit

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Chef Q&A

Pastry Chef Samantha Sherman in Denver

Samantha Sherman, a pastry chef in Denver, has enjoyed flavorful experiences during her career. After a six-year tenure with the Edible Beats Restaurant Group, she is currently working as a pastry instructor at Stir Cooking School. Besides sharing her expertise as a culinary producer and food stylist for Craftsy, Samm is also a recipe developer.

Here are some of the lessons that she has learned, along with her baking tips.

What were the challenges involved while overseeing four kitchens as executive pastry chef of Edible Beats Restaurant Group, and how did you juggle those responsibilities? I assume it's like having four kids: You love them all but never quite get enough time with each. Luckily, I was part of a great team, so we were able to share the responsibilities. As far as the dessert programs: a lot of note taking. I would have an idea or be inspired, write it down, then later figure out which restaurant and menu it would work best at.

What did you discover about international chefs and bakers while filming educational classes as a culinary producer and food stylist for Craftsy? I learned that organization is the language of the kitchen. If I could maintain organization, we could navigate any other issues a lot easier. The real challenge with international chefs and bakers was the sourcing of tools and ingredients; they were used for specific items and brands that sometimes we just didn't have access to.

What did you learn during your experience as an instructor for The Seasoned Chef? My time as a baking instructor has been a learning experience. I do mainly recreational classes meaning people take these classes for fun, a birthday gift from a friend or a work gathering. They are not people necessarily looking to make a future career in pastry arts, just want to enjoy their time, improve their baking skills and eat some delicious baked goods. It is a good reminder to not take myself too seriously--no one wants a teacher who is no fun--and also to look at the recipes and content from a different point of view and  deliver the most relevant information to this group of people. I always get nervous before a class--standing up in front of 20 people for a few hours while having baked goods come out properly, but I really enjoy it and glad it is part of my current work line up.

What are some of the projects that you are currently working on as a freelance food stylist, culinary producer and recipe developer? There is so much great food stuff going on around Denver; it keeps me busy. Currently, I am working a lot with Craftsy still; they just launched a new channel, Bluprint. Watching that come together has been really exciting and satisfying. I also have developed some relationships with great local photographers, so when they have different food-related projects come up we get to make magic together. As far as the recipe developing goes, I am pursuing some low-sugar and no-sugar-added desserts. In my personal life, we are trying to eat less sugar, and I am working on developing some recipes that can work their way into my professional life--lots of test tasting happening at home right now.

Would you like to add any other details about your experiences as a pastry chef, and can you share a few tips? My favorite phrase right now is "bake and release." It is something I shared with all my students at the beginning of class. The meaning is two fold: One, I have to release a lot of what I bake so I don't eat it all. Even after all this time as a pastry chef, I still love it all and need to work on my self-discipline when it comes to desserts. The other meaning is that baking is a practice that you have to be present for. It really is a science, and you need to be able to release the rest of what is going on in your life to focus on the dish in front of you. 

Why did you start making gluten-free desserts, and how have these recipes helped someone with celiac disease? I started making gluten-free desserts because there was a need. Ten years ago, gluten free wasn't as prevalent and there weren't as many options. The people that were coming to Root Down were expecting us to provide the options they could find other places. We decided that there needed to always be multiple gluten-free options on the dessert menu and as we saw the comment cards coming in repeatedly thanking us for having those options we knew gluten free was filling a need. It was a challenge at first especially where there wasn't as much information, but through trial and error, I found some great gluten-free options that tasted delicious.

Pastry Chef Samantha Sherman (photo courtesy of Samm Sherman)

Pastry Chef Samantha Sherman (photo courtesy of Samm Sherman)