Chef teaches Crater students that nutrition can be fun.

A Department of Education-sponsored program teaches students about proper nutrition and creating garnishes.

By Kevin McCallum, Graphic Reporter

Getting 80 9-year-olds to sit through a presentation about proper nutrition is no simple task—even for a guy with fruit pants and a big knife.

But professional chef Tom Ohling was able to do just that last week at Antonia Crater Elementary School. Wearing pants patterned with brightly colored fruit and vegetables, the energetic Ohling explained the importance of a well balanced diet based on the food pyramid, diagrams of which he displayed on a screen as he spoke. Ohling emphasized the importance of eating grains and at least five servings of fruits and vegetables every day.

According to Jennifer Parenteau, a program consultant for the child nutrition programs at the Oregon Department of Education, the purpose of Ohling's visit is to educate kids about nutrition and hand washing in a way that is enjoyable.

To give the kids and incentive to pay attention, every student had before them an orange, a napkin and a small plastic knife. They were not told what the items were for, but they didn't need to be—the idea that they would soon get to play with knives kept them plenty interested.

After the discussion of proper nutrition was over, Ohling launched into his real forte—creative garnishes. This art form, Ohling explained, adds eye appeal to dishes.

Brandishing a large carving knife and a cantaloupe, Ohling transformed his large melon, cut by careful cut, into something vaguely resembling an overstuffed, legless turkey. The students’ oooed and ahhhed at the "chicken." Each student then got the chance to carve their own garnish out of the orange in front of them.

After a brief lesson in the principles of safe knife handling, the students grabbed their serrate plastic weapons and attacked the unsuspecting produce before them. The results were exactly what one would expect them to be—80 kids with sticky fingers wondering what to do with their 80 cut oranges.

So if you sent your son or daughter to school last Thursday with an apple in their lunch box and they came home with a cut orange they were claiming was a chicken, now you know why.

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Loved by audiences

“Thanks so much for being a speaker at conference. I learned more from your class than all of the rest. ”

— Wilma Hyde, OSFSA Conference

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Honored for commitment to quality education

American Culinary Federation President's Citation to Tom Ohling for education

from The American Culinary Federation

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“Your professionalism, high energy, preparedness and content knowledge made it easy for the group to relate their experiences to your information and motivate change.”

– Scott A. Milam Manager, Clark County District NW Natural

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A part of your team

ACF Good Guy honor to Tom Ohling nutrition educator

The ACF Chef & The Child Foundation Good Guy Award

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Recognized in the community

Firestone 100 national honor to Tom Ohling for service to others

Firestone 100 National Community Service Recognition

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Recognized for excellent childhood education

Chefs de Cuisine Society of Oregon honors Tom Ohling for childhood education programs

from Chefs de Cuisine Society of Oregon

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