Master Food Volunteers and Extension Agents Participate in Continuing Education Event at US Foods

On April 18, 2018, Virginia Cooperative Extension sponsored a continuing education event with US Foods in Salem, VA, for our Master Food Volunteers and Extension Agents.  Just like the continuing education event held at Virginia State University on April 10, this event was also designed to help us enhance our food demonstration skills to entice our program participants to try new new foods and news ways of eating.

Our featured chef was Chef Jeff Bland with US Foods.  He has more than 34 years experience as a chef working in various restaurants and foodservice establishments, including Walt Disney and Le Petite France! He is also a Food Fanatics Chef and culinary master and is regularly featured in a variety of cooking shows and events around the country.  We were very fortunate to have him with us for this event.  Click HERE to learn more about the Food Fanatics Chefs at US Foods.

Chef Bland emphasized the importance of keeping our food demonstrations simple so that we can focus more on engaging our audiences.  How can we keep our audiences more engaged?  Ask questions, invite participation from the audience, and when possible, share stories about the foods we are preparing. He also discussed his best practices for being prepared before and during the demonstration and how to recover from mishaps.

Chef Jeff demonstrates how to involve audience participants in a food demonstration.

Chef Bland first demonstrated how to prepare some tasty recipes.  Our menu included baked chicken with a honey and lemon sauce, mixed vegetables with balsamic vinegar, and mixed grains.  Once he demonstrated how to prepare the food, we worked in groups to practice our demonstration skills and prepared our own versions of these recipes.  We were also encouraged to try any different ingredients we could find in the classroom kitchen to really make it our own recipe.

Chef Bland shares his best practices for food demonstrations.

Here are some great pictures of our prepared foods:

Chicken with honey and lemon sauce with fresh parsley.

Mixed vegetables with balsamic vinegar.

Another great example of mixed vegetables.

Mixed grains.

Here are some great pictures of our group demonstrations:

At the end of the event, we recognized the great work our volunteers and agents are doing in our local communities. It was also an opportunity to share new ideas for programs.

It was a another great day, and we wish to thank our Master Food Volunteers and Extension Agents who participated in this training:

We also wish to acknowledge Virginia Cooperative Extension for providing this training opportunity for us; to US Foods for their staff, facility, and resources ; and to Mr. Zeke Barlow and Mr. Tim Skiles with the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Communications and Marketing for coordinating and taking all of these great photos.

Many thanks to Dr. Carlin Rafie, Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist in Human Nutrition, Foods and Exercise for co-facilitating this workshop with me.  Also many, many thanks to Chef Jeff for sharing his time and expertise with us. We appreciate his valuable tips and techniques that we can use in our educational programs!

From left to right: Dr. Melissa Chase, Chef Jeff Bland, and Dr. Carlin Rafie

Submitted by Dr. Melissa Chase, State Coordinator, Master Food Volunteer Program