Gale Gand is royalty in the food world. She’s a successful cookbook author, Food Network personality and a rare female partner at a world-class restaurant.
When President Hu of China recently came to Chicago, Mayor Daley asked Gale to cook dessert for the welcome dinner—she has the signed chef’s jacket as a souvenir.
As likely as she is to be cooking with her buddies Emeril and Mario, she’s just as often in the cafeteria of Deerfield High School trying to convince 16-year-olds to try tofu. She visited the White House last year as part of Michelle Obama’s “Chefs Move to Schools,” which encourages chefs to adopt a local school.
“The school is so excited,” she says talking about Deerfield High School. “The principal sees it as a long-term relationship.” They’re already talking about composting and gardens, but this first year, Gale has been hands-on: hosting food demos and tastings in the cafeteria, at PTO meetings, and for special needs classes.
The day she made Thai summer rolls filled with tofu, glass noodles, herbs and shredded veggies, was the day she met the boy who had never tried tofu. “He took a bite and a big smile crossed his face,” she says. “That’s the joy I get from doing this.”
Since Deerfield is going so well, she’s also getting involved with Namaste Charter School, located on Chicago’s South Side starting in September. “They’re already doing a ton right,” she says. “They want to add in the idea of farm to table.”
When Gale isn’t volunteering at one of her children’s schools, cooking for charity auctions, dreaming up new root beer flavors or hanging out with her three children and husband, Jimmy Seidita, she’s working on her new book, “Gale Gand’s Lunch.”
“Lunch is the new dinner,” she says. It’ll have ideas for entertaining at lunch, portable meals and planning a dinner that can be used for lunch the next day. Her philosophy is that a dinner party can be daunting, but when it’s “just lunch” it all sounds so much more doable.
And coming from Gale, it will be doable, delicious and inspired.
To learn more about the White House initiative, Chefs Move to Schools and the larger program, Let’s Move, visit letsmove.gov. Gale’s website, which includes a complete list of her cookbooks, is galegand.com
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