Las Vegas Sun

July 21, 2017

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Students sample chef’s school lunch creations


Cydney Cappello

Clark County School District area supervisor Aida Rivera gives a tour of the central kitchen to Hayden Elementary school students, from left, Jaklyn Braithwaite, Danielle Denewitz, Abigail Gallarzo and Lauren Christensen.

CCSD school lunch taste test

Clark County School District food service director Charles Anderson talks with 20 fifth-graders about nutrition before a tour of the CCSD central kitchen and lunch. Launch slideshow »

Twenty fifth-graders from several elementary schools gathered at the Clark County School District's central kitchen earlier this week to test chef Wolfgang Puck’s new lunch creations.

Meatloaf, tator-tot bake and other school lunch standbys were nowhere to be found.

“(We’re) just trying to help in any way we can to make the food a little more interesting, more nutritious and more flavorful in the easiest way possible," said Dustin Lewandowski, executive chef at Trattoria del Lupo at Mandalay Bay.

The school district is more than a year into the partnership with Wolfgang Puck.

This is the third time the group of fifth-grade students has gathered to decide the future of the district's lunch menus. The first two meetings were with Puck directly, once at Trattoria del Lupo and the second with high school students at Northwest Career and Technical Academy’s culinary arts program.

During the culinary workshops, students have learned lessons about cooking and nutrition. Students on Thursday toured the central kitchen, where all of the school lunches for the county are prepared. And after the tour came the main course.

On this day the menu featured Cuban beans and rice, chicken lo mein, pasta salad and apple crumble. Some liked it; some didn't -- but everyone had a favorite.

“I like the rice,” Gragson Elementary fifth-grade Jana Polvado said.

“I like the apples best," Gragson Elementary fifth-grader Brayton Riley said.

School officials haven't yet decided which food will be added as a result of the partnership, or when the menu changes could occur.

“We don’t put anything on the line now, unless it's kid-tested,” school district food service director Charles Anderson said. “We send food out to each of the five regions -- two schools in a region, about 100 kids in each school -- and send supervisors there with clip boards. And we don’t give kids a piece of paper and say ‘What do you think?’ Supervisors go around and say, ‘What do you like about it? What don’t you like about it?’

"If the kids don’t like it, we don’t buy it.”

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