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Tasting Notes

News from TasteWise Kids & Days of Taste Maryland
Issue 5, December 2016 / January 2017

A Note from Wendy

Happy New Year! I hope you and your family are gearing up for a great 2017! A new year brings an opportunity to have a fresh outlook and take on some new projects. Moving into TasteWise Kids' second year, we are very proud of all the progress we made in the last year and all the exciting events and projects we already have planned for 2017. I’m especially grateful for all the support and guidance that our Board of Directors has provided to me and TasteWise Kids in the last year and for their renewed energy and dedication as we start off this year.

All the best,

Wendy Jeffries
Executive Director, TasteWise Kids

Today's Special : What's New

TasteWise Kids receives a grant from the Helen J. Serini Foundation
We are excited to share that TasteWise Kids received a grant from The Helen J. Serini Foundation to undertake a strategic planning initiative in 2017. This grant will fund strategic planning efforts that will help determine next steps for TasteWise Kids’ role as a leader in providing quality, hands-on food education programming to help ensure that more Maryland children learn where their food comes from and the value of fresh foods.

Taste of the Month
TasteWise Kids is piloting our new Taste of the Month program with 90 4th graders at Commodore John Rodgers Elementary/Middle School this winter. The goal of the program is to build on what students learned in Days of Taste program and to create a monthly activity that encourages their exploration of new fruits and vegetables on a regular basis. Collaborating with the Baltimore City Public Schools' Food and Nutrition Services and their Fresh Fruits and Vegetable (FFV) program, we are highlighting one fruit or vegetable each month, and providing additional resources and activities for  students to explore the new fruit or vegetable using all five senses (as they learn during Days of Taste). In December, we featured star fruit to rave reviews by the students! Most of the kids loved it, although there was NO agreement whether they loved it because it was juicy, sweet, sour, combination of tastes, etc.  We hope to expand this pilot program to more schools in 2017.

Main Courses: Days of Taste® Program Update

Even though it’s January and snow is beginning to fall, planning for our spring programming is underway. We have many requests for the Days of Taste program from schools that have participated in the program for years and new schools from every region of the Baltimore area.  We are planning to implement Days of Taste in 20-24 schools this spring (April – June 2017) in Baltimore City and Baltimore, Howard and Harford Counties.

We hope to continue our successful Take-home Salad Kits at many schools. These kits enable students to show their parents what they learned in Days of Taste by making a salad for their family at home, allowing the whole family to enjoy healthy eating together! See this learning in action by viewing photos submitted by the kids as they make the salads at home. 

We are beginning to recruit chefs, farmers, and volunteers for Days of Taste this spring – key ingredients for the program’s success.  If you are interested in learning more,  please fill out our interest form or contact Riva at  We will be hosting our Spring Days of Taste volunteer breakfasts in April. More details to come in the next issue of Tasting Notes.

Dining Out : Upcoming Events

TasteWise Kids and Ejii Ramen will be partnering on a fundraiser starting January 15th!
We are thrilled to be partnering with award-winning restaurant Ejji Ramen on a campaign to raise money using a new fundraising technology platform, The campaign will run from January 15 through February 15, 2017 and includes a kids’ cooking demo on Friday, January 27th from 5-6pm at Ejii Ramen (located in Belvedere Square in Baltimore City). “Partnering with TasteWise Kids is a natural fit, because we both value fresh food and exciting flavors. Educating the next generation on our food sources is important so we want to ensure we are doing our part to make TasteWise’s programs reach as many people as possible,” said Ejji Ramen co-owner Oscar Lee. “We believe we can help them raise funds and have fun doing it using Pixanthropy’s innovative platform.”

Please help us make this campaign to support TasteWise Kids  a success – to learn more and participate:   

Jerry Edwards, TasteWise Kids board member and Days of Taste chef, will be presenting at the Future Harvest Conference on January 13th. Come learn about our Days of Taste® program and stay for the day of informative workshops about cultivating the Chesaspeake foodshed.

In the kitchen with...

This month, we put the spotlight on Alex “Bad Chef” Dunbar, who is the Days of Taste Lead Volunteer in Howard County.

How are you involved with TasteWise Kids/Days of Taste?
I am one of Days of Taste's lead volunteers in Howard County. I coordinate the volunteers and chef with the school schedule for the schools with which I work. I introduce the Days of Taste program to the students on Day 1. I then advise them that I am the “Bad Chef” and they need to get through me to the “Good Chef.” From there I guide them through the the elements of taste — salty, bitter, sour and sweet — using “mystery” powders — salt, cocoa powder, citric acid and sugar. Each time they react to the powders I remind them that I am the Bad Chef. It’s all in fun. Then I hand them over to the Good Chef who guides them through the same taste elements only with real food. On the second day, I join the students during their farm visit. The final day I recap the experiences of the first 2 days and step back while the Good Chef leads them through the hands-on salad making project. My goal is to transform the classroom (or other room in which we meet) into a fun learning environment for the students while they learn about and enjoy food. The feedback suggests I am successful in this.

What is your job and/or how are you involved in the food scene in Maryland?
I am an at-home parent. I raised three daughters while my wife went out to work each day. I shared with them my love for good food and taught them how to prepare their own food. My non-parenting time is divided between several volunteer organizations -- Girl Scouts of Central Maryland, Howard County Master Gardeners, Maryland Master Naturalists, and Days of Taste. Each of these groups enables me to spend my time working with and teaching school-aged children.

In your opinion, what makes Days of Taste and TasteWise Kids so special?
I learned about food and how to cook by helping my mom in her kitchen. While Days of Taste does not teach kids how to cook, it does put volunteers and chefs in a position to share their experiences and passions for food with young students. I’ve watched volunteers encourage reluctant students to try new things. In the end, what is best is that many of the students are excited enough to want to go home and share the Days of Taste experience with their families. They want to prepare a salad for dinner and talk about taste and balance and local sources for fresh food. In the schools where we return yearly, these same students, now a year older, are still excited to see Days of Taste come to their school and wish they were participating again.

What is your favorite vegetable?
I really like zucchini. It is such a flexible vegetable with which to work. It is a great bread ingredient. Mixed with ground beef, it makes for moist, tasty hamburgers. Cut with a spiralizer, zucchini becomes an excellent replacement for spaghetti noodles. Zucchini "plays" well wherever it is invited.

If you could have one meal at a local restaurant, what and where would it be?
I would head over to Elkridge Furnace Inn where Chef Dan Wecker grows fresh, organic vegetables in his own garden and buys many of his other ingredients from local farms. I would go with the day's special for my meal, and enjoy the special taste of locally grown, fresh ingredients.

If you could travel to any city in the world for a "food trip", where would you go?
London, England, has a new reputation as the world's Capital of Food. I would gladly go there to try as many different tastes from around the world as I possibly could. And then I would return home to the comforts of good ole home-cooking.

What is your favorite thing to cook at home?
I enjoy making my family and friends happy. So, that is what I like cooking most — whatever will make them happy. Here in January, surrounded by winter, comfort food is at the top of my home menu. I currently have a pot of soup simmering on the stove. A couple pounds of cheese are ready for shredding on their way into a big pan of baked mac and cheese. And a zucchini is on standby, also awaiting shredding, before joining the ground meats to become a succulent meatloaf. Oh, so comforting and happy, too!

What is a favorite food related memory from your childhood?
My mom always let me help her in the kitchen. When we had a garden, she took me out to help her there. Best of all, however, was when she baked. That's when I was permitted to lick the last of the batter or dough off the mixer beaters and scrape the mixing bowl clean. Yummy

What are 2 or 3 things that are always in your refrigerator?
Homemade sauerkraut and kombucha, eggs, and various condiments are always present in my refrigerator. When in season, the freshest fruits and veggies join the fridge-crowd or litter the countertops.

Chew on This

As part of this year’s Light City Baltimore, there will be a whole day dedicated to food! One of the six one-day innovation conferences this year focuses on food. These conferences (or Labs) seek to spark social change through interactive sessions with nationally recognized, thought-provoking speakers.

The Food Lab, to be held on April 8th, will include “local and national chefs, technologists, farmers, and organizations whose work is transforming the current and future landscape in the world of food, and reshaping our attitudes towards what we eat. From urban farming, sustainable seafood and tackling food deserts, to the power of food to transform communities, acclaimed culinary experts will illuminate the importance of continuing culinary innovation to spur social change.” Our very own Days of Taste Chef Spike Gjerde is one of the featured speakers along with others, including renowned Chef Marcus Samuelsson.

What is Light City Baltimore? Launched by the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts in 2016, Light City Baltimore is the first large-scale, international light festival in the United States. Last year, more than 400,000 people attended during the seven day and night festival.

Food for Thought

What do "healthy kids meals", "food waste reduction" and "locally sourced produce" have in common? They're all part of the National Restaurant Association's hottest food trends for 2017!

For more, check our the accompanying video :

Saving the Best for Last
A 4th grader's reflections on her Days of Taste experience making salad at her home. 
Copyright © 2017 TasteWise Kids, All rights reserved.

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