November 3, 2010

Soup to Nuts: DO try this at home

Local chefs are jumping on board a new program to teach families on a limited budget that healthy, good-tasting cooking CAN happen in their own kitchens.

By Meredith Goad
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 2)

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Chef James Tranchemontagne of the Frog and Turtle and the French Press Eatery restaurants in Westbrook says being involved in the Cooking Matters program is “like a dream come true.” Here he looks on as Corey Watson, 13, and Kristen Wiggins, 12, work on a marinara sauce. Below, Tranchemontagne and Amber Weitzell, 12, add the onions.

Photos by Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

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Chef James Tranchemontagne and Amber Weitzell, 12, add the onions to a marinara sauce.

Additional Photos Below


COOKING MATTERS to Maine is looking for chefs and class assistants to help teach classes. Kristen Miale, the program director, welcomes chefs from chain restaurants, especially in areas outside of Portland. Class assistants don't need any culinary or nutritional training. It's a great way to work alongside some of the area's best chefs. Upcoming classes in Auburn and Biddeford especially need volunteers. If you're interested, contact Miale at 423-5166 or e-mail her at Here's the current class schedule:

Boys & Girls Club, South Portland, class for kids taught by Barbara Bloomgren, SMCC culinary student, 4 to 6 p.m. Thursdays, last class Thursday.

Casco Village Church, Casco, class for adults taught by Linda Manchester, the Good Life Market, 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesdays through Dec. 8 (no class Nov. 24).

Parkside Neighborhood Center, Portland, class for adults taught by Chef Jeff Landry, the Farmer's Table, 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. Mondays through Dec. 6.

Boys & Girls Club, Auburn, class for kids taught by Tony Gioia, retired chef, 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Tuesday to Dec. 21 (no class Nov. 23).

Joyful Harvest, Biddeford, class for teens taught by Chef Larry Matthews, Back Bay Grill, 5 to 7 p.m Wednesdays, Nov. 10 to Dec. 22 (no class Nov. 24).


SURVEYS ARE CONDUCTED at the end of each series of Cooking Matters classes to see if there have been any behavioral changes and to gauge which classes are most effective nationally. Here are some results from the first two programs at the Bridgton Food Pantry.

By the end of the course, participants reported that:

43 percent are eating more vegetables.

31 percent are eating more fruit.

79 percent are eating more whole grains.

35 percent are eating more lean meats.

39 percent are drinking more water.

4 percent none of these.

87 percent improved their cooking skills.

100 percent made an Eating Right recipe at home.

100 percent would recommend Eating Right to a friend.

Adults are also given a "grocery store challenge" where they have to put together a healthy meal for four people that includes at least three food groups and doesn't cost more than $10. When they've passed, they get a $10 Hannaford gift card.

"We had a great experience at the class in Bridgton where a woman wanted to do a Chinese stir fry," Miale recalled. "She had brown rice, she had vegetables, but she had one of those seasoning packets for the sauce. And the chef was like, no.

"He showed her the sodium on the back (of the packet), and then he brought her over to the produce and he got her ginger, garlic, scallions, and found a bottle of low-sodium soy sauce and talked her through how to make it herself."

Every person who takes the classes gets a bag of groceries at the end so they can try the recipes they've learned.

"For the adult classes, especially, that's a real incentive to get them to keep coming each week," Miale said. "And Hannaford also said they're going to put together pantry kits for when they graduate, with whole wheat flour, spices and things like that."

The first two classes held at the Bridgton Food Pantry, taught by a chef from the Ruby Tuesday's in Augusta, had a 96.2 percent graduation rate.

Watson takes home the groceries every week and asks if he can cook the dishes he learned at Mission Possible. "I haven't been able to yet," he said, "but I hope to."

"My biggest thing to tell them," Tranchemontagne said, "is to cook at home. Everything stems from getting the family to sit down. And whether they have the traditional mom-dad, brother-sister family, or a nontraditional family, food can overcome so much."


Staff Writer Meredith Goad can be contacted at 791-6332 or at:


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Additional Photos

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Brenda Bracy shares her knowledge of nutrition with Kristen Wiggins, 12, Corey Watson, 13, and Stephen Foster, 11.


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