AUGUSTA, Maine — The farm-to-table movement is making its way into the classroom.
The Maine Department of Education has created a culinary classroom, where school chefs from all over the state can learn how to use fresh, local produce for breakfast and lunch programs.
"I grew up in a family that loved to eat and cook."
Michele Bisbee feels most at home in the kitchen, even when she's technically at work. The culinary classroom in Augusta is her new office, as the state's child nutrition consultant.
"[It's] a space where we can really reach out to all the schools and train the culinary professionals so that the students can get a great meal," Bisbee said.
The kitchen is set up to look like ones found in most schools across the state, with similar equipment. Although it's traditional equipment, the meals that come out of this kitchen will be anything but.
"The food trend changes all the time. So we have to stay current with the trend for the students so we make sure that we give them what we're used to," said Walter Beesley, the state's director of child nutrition. "But it's important to make food that tastes good."
Beesley said the space will be able to rotate 30 school chefs at a time, teaching them new recipes using fresh produce to include veggies and fruits that are locally sourced.
"We want to just give them ideas to think outside the box," Bisbee said.
Like using so-called "ugly tomatoes" which can be purchased for less to make gazpacho.
Spicing up school meals, one lesson at a time.
"Give the kids things maybe they haven't seen before or maybe only see at restaurants," Bisbee said. "Really the school is the biggest restaurant in town so why not treat it that way?"
Bisbee is one of two chefs who will be teaching other school chefs out of this culinary classroom.
They plan to invite some guest chefs in to teach lessons as well.