This Food Truck Teaches City Kids How To Cook (And Love!) Their Veggies

Philly-based chef Marc Vetri is bringing fun, farm-to-table cooking lessons curbside to the communities who need it most.

February 2, 2017
mobile teaching kitchen
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Distributing healthy, seasonal veggies in the city is great in theory—but what if kids don't want to eat them, and people don’t have the recipes or familiarity to cook them? Philadelphia chef and restaurateur Marc Vetri has the answer: his new Mobile Teaching Kitchen, a modified food truck pimped out with a portable griddle, skillet, kettle, induction burner, and immersion blender—and a killer sound system. Instead of your run-of-the-mill food truck that serves up street-style prepared foods, the teaching kitchen offers kids and their families empowerment to live healthier lives through hands-on cooking experience. 

Families participate in 15-minute cooking demonstrations at schools, community centers, and farmers’ markets in underserved neighborhoods. The colorful truck, stenciled over in red, yellow, and green vegetable prints, rolls up to the curb, and passersby can pop in for demonstrations of how to mince garlic, peel carrots, mash potatoes, and other fundamental culinary skills. Kids and their parents head home with recipes and hands-on experience in working together to whip up healthy, repeatable dishes like crispy Brussels sprouts with root vegetables and cider vinaigrette; or braised greens, roasted sweet potatoes, and apples, putting the veggies they get from local food-distribution programs and neighborhood gardens to good use.

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The mobile kitchen partners with after-school events, farmers' markets, and local food distribution programs that provide fresh-from-the farm-produce at affordable prices. One of their close partners is local nonprofit the Share Food Program, which provides affordable fresh food access to the city through a $20 box of seasonal fruits and vegetables and varying types of protein. 

 The veggie food truck is an outgrowth of the Vetri Community Partnership which brings fresh, seasonal, cooked-from-scratch meals to schools in communities in need. Amy Falkenstein, Community Outreach Manager, says, "Mostly, the recipes are created to encourage really great conversation about the seasonal ingredients and cooking techniques. We focus in on how make the ingredients taste great, expose the audience to new flavors, and work through all the possible ways they could make the dish on their own."

The Mobile Teaching Kitchen launched in October 2016, but it's been a grassroots success so far.

"Recently at the farmer's market they sold out of kale because the demonstration pushed that buying power," Falkenstein says, "I'm learning every single day with the truck that people just want to learn and be engaged. Things they thought they didn't like, they're finding out that sometimes they really do." 

See more from the Vetri Community Partnership here (formerly named the Vetri Foundation for Children):