Chef in the Classroom

Chef Gene Gowan helps connect students to their food!

The Chef in the Classroom program teaches students where their food comes from, and helps them understand how to use unique foods in real life.

The Chef in the Classroom Series was introduced to CES in 2012 and continues to grow! Chef Gene brings healthy food, nutrition, excitement, and knowledge of where food comes from into the elementary school students' lives.  It is important to know what is good for you to put into your body, and that connection of where your food comes from is a key element in making good food choices. Chef Gene demonstrates how to make healthy food, (and students even get to harvest some of the food themselves from the school garden!) After Chef Gene shows students how to make the recipe, each kid gets to sample the food! Even though the recipes may be outside the student's normal palette, most of the kids learn about a new food that they love. When kids get to be hands-on with their food, whether it be growing and harvesting or cooking, they have another tool to become healthy adults. 

The Chef in the Classroom Series happens in each elementary grade level once a year. The recipes stay the same so each student will get to experience each one. During the presentation Chef Gene makes sure to actively engage with the children throughout, connecting subjects such as math, English, and science into the cooking process and everyday life.

We are very fortunate to have this program and Gene!

Chef in the Classroom Recipes & Schedule

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This first event coincides with the Cambridge Wellness  Collaborative’s Wellness Week at CES. All the 4th grade

classes commence in the CES Blue Jay Garden to harvest the vegetables they planted in the previous spring as 3rd graders. They head to the CES Commons with their fresh picked produce in hand to make a salad and homemade dressing with the chef.

Education: Harvesting and reading the bottle of Ranch dressing ingredients vs homemade.

Garden Salad with Homemade Ranch Dressing.

4th Grade.



Maple-Glazed Carrots

3rd Grade

This was the first grade to ever participate in our Chef in the Classroom series. Chef Gene Gowan creates maple glazed carrots for this event celebrating the late season root vegetables. The carrots have historically been grown in either our Severson Learning Center

School Lunch Garden or CES Blue Jay Garden. In 2016-17, 3rd graders harvested their carrots from the CES Blue Jay Garden a few days ahead for the chef to prepare and use at the event.


Education: Root vegetables. How maple syrup is made.

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Apple Cranberry Chutney

1st Grade.

Made with local apples and Wisconsin cranberries, this is a unique tasting

dish to serve to young students who find it delicious. An easy recipe to take home and make during the upcoming holidays.


Education: Buying local produce. How apples and cranberries grow.


Butternut Squash Pancakes

2nd Grade.

This is one of our favorite recipes. Classes down the hall are in awe of

the wonderful Fall aromas. Chef Gene Gowan creates yummy spiced pancakes using a fall/winter staple – winter squash. The squash has historically been grown in one of our school gardens.

Education: Winter vs Summer Squash. Spices.

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Rainbow Week Fruit

and Yogurt Smoothies.


During the CES Rainbow week, we invite our younger students to discover the rainbow of fruit colors and make smoothies with local yogurt (when possible). 

Education: Definition of a fruit vs vegetable. Where and how fruit grows around the world. How yogurt is made and what is culture.



with Spinach Salad and Dressing

5th Grade

This event falls concurrent with CES Farm Day/Week the third week in May. Chef Gene Gowan whips up a seasonal salad of local spinach with tortellini. As he cuts up the vegetables for the salad, he demonstrates different classic cuts (dice, julienne, chiffonade). He shows us how easy it is to make a homemade dressing.

Education: Seasonal ingredients (leaf, flower, fruit, root). Basic knife skills and culinary vocabulary.

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