Chef Josh Aaron: Savory Spoon (Jefferson, GA)
Chef Josh was born in Athens, GA.He is an Honors Graduate of the Art Institute of TN- Nashville with a 4.0GPA. His biggest Influence as a Chef- The late Charlie Trotter with his ability to take amazing produce, awesome meats, and various seafood to complete simplistic, but elegant dishes.
He has worked in restaurants for 15 years in Colorado, Nevada, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Georgia. He believes that using the freshest quality ingredients is the basis of what it takes to be a true chef.
Chef Josh believes, that if you work hard, focus, and give back to your community that you will be successful, at least in your own mind — Which is one reason why Chef Josh has so generously worked with Northeast Georgia Farm to School! Wether he is making pizza from scratch with students at South Jackson Elementary or teaching knife skills to Jackson County School System’s Nutrition Staff, Chef Josh is always happy to bridge the gap between fresh food access and Northeast Georgia children.
His favorite food ingredients are wild mushrooms, any type of meat or seafood, and blackeyed or purple hull peas. If he could be a chef for a day in any place in the world he would pick Nassau, Bahamas.
Chef Josh owns and operates Savory Spoon, a local restaurant in Jefferson, Ga that features a changing menu of locally sourced items.
705 Sycamore Street
Jefferson, Ga. 30549
Chef Chris Bolton: Harvest Habersham
At Harvest Habersham we’re dedicated to great food that is inspired by fresh local ingredients. We work with dozens of local farms to procure ripe ingredients and prepare them in a way that enhances their fresh flavors. We call this style of cooking “Genuine Food”. Our menu depends on the farmers, fishermen and foragers, so the menu changes frequently based on whatever fresh ingredients are available.
Chef Chris Bolton grew up in Clarkesville and has been focused on farm to table cooking from the start of his career. It is thrilling for him to see how far the community around us has come in the last few years in terms of local food awareness and how it benefits not only our physical well-being but also the health of the local economy. What a pleasure to see this movement grow into the school system and help educate and guide the next generation back toward genuine food. It has been an honor to work with the Farm to School staff and students.
Chef Chris has prepared delectable meals for Farm to School events and taught Farm to School Ambassadors how to make a very unique apple-mint ravioli using locally milled whole wheat, local eggs, local milk, local mint, and North Carolina apples. Enjoy your own taste of Harvest Habersham for lunch or dinner. 1362 Washington Street, Clarkesville, GA 30523, Tel: 706-754-0056, Hours: Tuesday – Friday Lunch: 11:30 – 2:00 and Tuesday – Saturday Dinner 5:30 – 9:00
Chef Jamie Allred: Fortify
With fewer households cooking from scratch these days, kids are often missing even the most basic food preparation skills. Recognizing that knowing how to cook is a life skill that can help lead to healthier choices, the Northeast Georgia Farm to School program has partnered with local chefs to bring that knowledge into the classroom.
Chef Jaime Allred led a hands-on cooking workshop for Habersham County’s Farm to School Youth Ambassadors. The goal of the workshop was to expose students to culinary skills using produce from local farms that they have visited. The students learned knife skills, zesting and peeling, as well as food safety and proper hand washing. Check out the video here.
Chef Jamie finds working with students a great resource to show our future where their food comes from and how it is grown. “I enjoy providing the students the hands on experiences and teaching them what goes into preparing fresh food for consumption from washing, chopping, and cooking. The end results are satisfying and offer great nourishment for the soul. I think it is also great for students to see and use skills in a trade that could lead them into a career and eventually will be part of their well being as they will know how to cook for themselves fresh food compared to processed.”
A special thank you to Chef Jamie! He has led numerous hands-on workshops for the Northeast Georgia farm to school project, including workshops with cafeteria staff and nutrition directors. Formerly the executive chef at Lake Rabun Hotel, Chef Jamie has opened his own restaurant, Fortify Kitchen and Bar, 69 North Main Street, Clayton, Ga.
Chef Barrie Aycock: Farm to School Chef
Barrie Aycock, retired executive chef and former owner of Glen-Ella Springs Inn & Restaurant had been reading about farm to school and stepped up to serve as a farm to school chef for NEGA. “I am excited about the potential impact this program can have on our community and our children’s health. Fresher food in the cafeteria equals more nutritious and tasty food for the students” says Chef Aycock.
Chef Aycock is one of our F2S chefs who works with our school nutrition team. Recent trainings with school nutrition staff Chef Aycock stressed the importance of food safety, washing and storage of fresh farm produce. From there, she led the staff through their own practice session, demonstrating different ways of cutting fruits, vegetables and fresh herbs to make them look more appealing, and having them practice on their own in the development of fresh produce recipes.
Chef Geleta G. “Gigi” Hunt: Glen Ella Inn & Restaurant
Chef Geleta G. “Gigi” Hunt has discovered the wonderful world of fresh fruits and vegetables and wants to share her discovery with local students. Fresh fruits and vegetables not only quell our hunger and provide our nutrition, but they provide opportunities for creativity, for social events and for expressing our individual heritage. Almost everyone remembers unique and special meals or dishes.
Sometimes these memories focus on the warm and comforting feelings that we had when we ate with family and relatives. Perhaps the event was a celebration. Maybe we got to know someone better, when we ate the food that was from our new friend’s cultural background, and we saw for the first time what our friend ate at their house. Then there are those obscure and tasty ingredients that we have never eaten before but are brave enough to try. Food even can be used to increase our bodily stamina and strength and combat some illnesses. Many of these benefits can exist in wonderfully prepared school lunches as well.
These aspects of the world of food have fueled Chef Gigi’s passion to “explore”, “experiment” and best of all “eat”. She recently graduated from Culinary School where she learned the ropes. A great opportunity then presented itself for Chef “Gigi” to live in New Orleans for a few months and train with some of the most highly acclaimed Creole and Contemporary French New Orleans chefs. She now works on weekends at Glen Ella Inn and Restaurant as a cook.
Chef Gigi is eager to share her background of working with fresh fruits and vegetables with our local students. As someone who has had lifelong involvement with Southern home cooking, Chef Gigi believes that the tried and true methods and recipes for our Southern fruits and vegetables are treasures that should continue to be cherished, but that many new tastes and flavor blends are just waiting to be prepared and enjoyed. Her dishes are a combination of old favorites and dishes with innovative twists. Our best meals are ahead of us, and our students should be a part of it all. Get ready to “explore”, “experiment” and “eat
Chef Lindsey Payne
Lindsey Payne is the owner and head chef of Lindsey’s Culinary Market in Athens. She has been involved as a chef in the Habersham County Farm to School program, helping with taste tests and training cafeteria staff, and recently we got to hear more of her story.
How did you get into cooking? I have always loved to cook. I wrote an “autobiography” in 5th grade and included recipes in it for Jello molds and cakes that I loved to make. Finally after 20 years working in health care I decided I wanted to go to culinary school and make a new career for the remainder of my life. I tell people all the time how everyone is so much happier to see me with food and beverages than they ever were with needles and medicine. The best time of my life was when I was in culinary school in Charleston, S.C.
Why did you decide to help out with Farm to School? My good friend Teri Hamlin, the northeast Georgia Farm to School coordinator, told me about it and asked for my assistance. I had worked at a restaurant on a vineyard before where we had our own kitchen garden. Guests to the winery would tour our gardens while waiting on a table. I was always so amazed that so many people had never seen vegetables growing. They had only seen them in the grocery store. It made me believe that not knowing where the food you ate came from equaled not having an adventuresome palette. What a travesty! In this day of kids meals and chicken nuggets, children are not being exposed to so many culinary delights. There’s nothing that compares to a tomato or ear of corn fresh from the garden!
What’s your favorite part about participating in Farm to School? It’s hilarious to see the kids’ reactions to the vegetables. Some turn their noses up and act like there is no way they would eat such a thing – that drives me crazy! Some will try it and really like it and they can’t believe they did. Then of course there are those that come back for more! The hard thing for me is trying to come up with ways to serve the vegetables so the kids will find it appealing. But that is what I strive to do every day in my restaurant/catering business as well!
Why should schools have Farm to School programs? I think it is important for our future for students to learn about how food is produced and what they’re putting in their body. They should learn there are options and how they can be affected by them. Knowledge is power. Also, cooking and eating is just fun – it’s a part of life!