Wednesday, January 26, 2011


That's Right! You read the title! We've been talking about it for years and we finally made it happen! On Sunday January 23 we hosted our first ever FoodWhat Reunion! Inviting all the youth who have ever been part of FoodWhat back to the farm for a night of mingling, hanging out, food, a slide show from the good ol' days, and of course, the My Biggest Fan Championship! Folks represented all the years from the '07 originals up to this years crew! It was great to have everyone back on the farm and catch up with all those we haven't seen in a while.

If you have been part of FoodWhat and didn't hear from us, it means we don't have a way to contact you. Please get in touch with us so we can keep you in the loop.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Doron Receives the Nextie Award!

Santa Cruz Next awards Doron for his work with Food, What?! as "a trailblazer, an innovator, an inspiration and a local hero making a positive impact in the Santa Cruz community!"
Congratulations Doron and Food, What?!.

The Santa Cruz Good Times features Doron and the three other awardees:

DORON COMERCHERO The Food, What?! founder helps harvest confident teens
“In my twenties, I didn’t know how to grow a tomato.” That’s a surprising admission coming from Doron Comerchero, someone who now spends most of his time on a half-acre farm teaching local teens how to harvest organic fare.
What Comerchero did have in those years after graduating from the University of Michigan was community organizing skills. Having collaborated with urban community gardens in the Bronx at a time when “Mayor Giuliani was trying to bulldoze them,” the 33-year-old founder of Food, What?! knew early on that he wanted to use gardens to plant seeds of teen leadership. Read the full article here

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Tips for Cooking with Youth

If you plan on cooking with a group of youth, here are a few basic tips to help ensure success.

Be Prepared
  • Make sure that you have all your ingredients, recipes, equipment, and plan thought out and ready to go.

  • If there are many ingredients to measure, it is a good idea to have multiple sets of measuring cups and spoons so that more than one person can measure at a time. 

  • For organization and tone setting, it is best to set up the equipment and ingredients before the youth arrive so that everything is smooth and ready to use. For example, if you are splitting into small groups, have a bowl or bag of ingredients and cooking equipment already separated for each group. Be sure to let the students do the measuring, but it is important to have the ingredients organized and ready to go.

  • Before cooking, make sure that everyone washes his or her hands with soap and all cooking surfaces are wiped down with soap and water. 
  • Make sure that all open cuts on the hands and arms are covered and that long hair is tied back.
  • Working with knives requires the youth to be fully attentive to what they are chopping. Encourage everyone to keep their eyes on what they are cutting.
  • Demonstrate knife safety techniques: Curl your fingers under so they are away from the knife. Cutting away from yourself. If you are cutting something round, be sure to cut it in half and place the flat side down so it is not able to roll while you are cutting.
  • Always make sure there is only one person per cutting board, and space between each cutting board.
  • Do not let anyone walk with knives. Have a bin on the table to collect dirty knives. Wash them all at once and carry them to the sink in the bin.

Keep everyone engaged and active
This is one of the most important tips for success. The more tasks there are to do, the more engaged youth will be.
  • If you are cooking with a large group, break into smaller groups of no more than eight participants. Each group can make the same recipe, or they can make a component of a larger meal. 
  • Be creative with finding tasks! For example, add more fruits and vegetables to chop up than the recipe calls for. Cut an onion or potato in half so that two people have onion or potato-chopping jobs. Give someone a job as the recipe reader, and another person a stirring job. As a person finishes their chopping task, ask them to help someone else who has more chopping to do, or start cleaning-up. As a facilitator, your job is to make sure that everyone is safe and engaged in a task.  

Set the Tone
  • Let participants know that you hope they will try new things, but that they will not be required to eat anything, and they will never have to finish anything they don't like. Many youth, when given this freedom, feel less apprehensive about trying new foods.