WOODBRIDGE >> When is a vegetable not really a vegetable? When it is transformed by a talented chef into turtles, flowers, butterflies, swans and even a freight train full of fruit and veggie cargo. Students at Beecher Road School were treated to a spectacular display of food art when Chef Mark Desiderio from A. J. Letizio visited the school to show children the fun side of healthful foods. The event was facilitated by Lynn Pellegrini, the Director of K-12 school sales for A.J. Letizio, and was part of the Superintendent’s Cafeteria Task Force initiative to expose students to healthier foods, integrate new healthful foods into school menus, and provide nutrition education on lifestyle habits.
The chef began work early in the morning creating a swan from a honeydew melon, with curving neck surrounding a colorful assortment of cut fruit. Next came a mother turtle from a round watermelon and two baby Granny Smith green apple turtles — all nestled in a foodscape of romaine, chard and frilled leek “trees.” Chef Mark then tried his hand at a new item he had recently seen: a train made from a long English cucumber. Slowly but surely a locomotive, then a caboose, and boxcars emerged. Round carrot slices became wheels, and the cars were loaded with carrot stick “logs,” melon balls and sliced yellow squash freight. When placed into a scene of cucumber chunk tree trunks with rosemary sprig branches, all that was missing was the train whistle sound. It was the perfect visual kick-off for the February nutrition display theme of “Get On Board the Healthy Heart Express” which uses National Heart Month as its focus.