New Orleans chef, Kenner students cook up healthy meals

Photo by Stephen LeGendre -- From left, Brane'y Davis, Isha Porter, Dominic Williams, Kyanna Nelson and Kelia Anderson of Roosevelt Middle School test their creations.
Photo by Stephen LeGendre -- From left, Brane'y Davis, Isha Porter, Dominic Williams, Kyanna Nelson and Kelia Anderson of Roosevelt Middle School test their creations.

A group of students from Theodore Roosevelt Middle School in Kenner took lessons recently on making a batch of healthful spaghetti and basil tomato sauce with Alon Shaya, executive chef at Domenica restaurant in New Orleans.

Shaya was the guest of Cooking up Healthy Options and Portions, a middle school cooking program at Roosevelt and J.D. Meisler Middle School in Metairie, designed to teach students to prepare healthy meals.

The 10-week C.H.O.P. program is presented by Ochsner Health System as part of its “Change the Kids, Change the Future” program and through a grant from the Humana Foundation. Field trips to a youth farm and supermarket will allow students to see where their food comes from and how to shop for a healthy pantry.

“Ochsner recently did a survey of ninth-graders at Bonnabel High School and found that more than one-third of the students prepare meals for their families but also said they didn’t know how to cook,” said Avery Corenswet, vice president of community outreach, Ochsner Health System. Shaya was instrumental to the development of the program curriculum, said Corenswet. His involvement comes from a personal passion.

“I have a strong belief that every person should do something extra to positively impact their community,” Shaya said. “I’ve chosen to do that through my love of cooking and teaching.”