Back Behind the Lines

By Chef Coleen Donnelly

I recently made an appearance as guest chef at a local restaurant I love – Canela Bistro Bar in San Francisco.

The owner, Mat Schuster is the first friend I made when I moved to San Francisco in 2007. Four years ago he said he wanted to open a restaurant and I encouraged him not to. Not only didn’t he listen to me, he wrangled me into helping him do it! Happily, Canela has been a big success and I am extremely proud of him.

It is a Spanish Tapas restaurant, so I had to go in that direction with the dishes I picked for Red Quinoa Flat Bread with Grilled Vegetables and Goat Cheese Drizzle2the night. It was a fun challenge because it allowed me to dig deeper into Spanish cuisine while still working with my favorite rice and grains from InHarvest: Red Quinoa Flat Bread with Grilled Vegetables and Goat Cheese Drizzle, Roasted Piquillo Peppers Stuffed with Heirloom Red Rice, Amaranth and Multi Colored Peas, Albondiga of Freekeh, Serrano Ham, Garbanzos and Feta and Black Nerone Arroz con Leche. I pulled together a Tuxedo Barley Wild Mushroom Salad that wound up being the crowd favorite. People are crazy for grain salads in San Francisco these days.

One of the best things about stepping in as a guest chef is that it puts you back on the front Roasted Piquillo Peppers Stuffed with Heirloom Red Rice1lines, at least for a night. When I arrived and realized how much work I had to do, it all came back to me! The memory of being the chef in a busy restaurant with only a few hours to go until the doors open washed over me and gave me the adrenaline I needed to be ready. Mat and I had fun and served some nice food that night.

Sprouted Rice and Grains: Their Time Has Come

By Chef Michael Holleman

Our newest product, Sprouted Sienna Red™ Rice, isn’t actually new. It’s familiar, California-grown red rice, similar to the heirloom Colusari Red we’re known for, with one difference: the rice has been allowed to sprout. It’s then processed at the exact point when we can capture the maximum nutritional benefits.
Sprouted Sienna

The sprouting process has actually been around for hundreds of years. Health food enthusiasts have been using sprouted grains for decades – you’ve probably seen it in breads and baked goods. In the United States, coming to market with a commercially viable sprouted grain is down to science. That means cutting off the sprouting process at precisely the right moment. This guarantees that no nutrients leave the grain and the full nutritional benefits of sprouting are achieved. We’re thrilled to have discovered a process that enables us to consistently deliver delicious, safe and highly nutritious sprouted red rice.

What makes sprouting worth all the fuss, you might wonder? First of all, the nutritional benefits are unique and unmatched. Sprouting grains increases many of the grains’ key nutrients, including B vitamins, vitamin C, folate, fiber, and essential amino acids often lacking in grains, such as lysine. Sprouted rice also boasts nearly 10 times the gamma amino butyric acids (GABA) of white rice. GABA has been linked to a variety of health benefits, particularly neurological.

But what about the taste? The flavor profile is very similar to the original rice, but the texture is a bit less toothsome as the bran layer is softened during the sprouting process. This also accounts for a slightly shorter cook time. Our Sprouted Sienna Red Rice cooks up in just 30 minutes.

Breakfast SaladWe chose to lead our sprouting effort with Sprouted Sienna Red Rice because of its distinctive red hue, and our love of colored rice in general. Its name comes from the color sienna red, and we think it evokes an earthy, natural palette, in appearance and flavor.

Sprouted grains are as flexible as their un-sprouted whole grain counter-parts. We’ve developed a wonderful recipe for a breakfast salad that really celebrates the rice’s health benefits, and it would be very successful in any soup, salad or pilaf.

We’re looking into new ideas about what to sprout next, and really excited about the possibilities this process allows us, both for pure products and as part of our culinary blend program.

At One School, Kids Harvest Healthy Eating Habits to Hopefully Last a Lifetime

By Coleen Donnelly, Corporate Chef, K-12

I first met Laurie Hughes, a humanities teacher at Oceana High School in Pacifica, Calif., in July 2011. We had both registered with Chefs Move to Schools (, which was founded the previous year as an integral part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative and its goal of solving the childhood-obesity epidemic in the United States within a generation.

02-13_Laurie_HughesThe website connects schools in need of culinary help with chefs who want to volunteer their time to improve school meals. Laurie contacted me, we had coffee, and immediately began what has been an incredibly rewarding four years.

My work for the past 15 years has focused on the school cafeteria. Laurie had embraced a project that really resonated with me because I wanted to branch out a little. It began when one of her kids, Naftali Moed, approached her in 2009 while he was a sophomore with an interest in starting a school garden. This was to be his senior project, and Laurie mentored him throughout the difficult process. One of the obstacles they faced was the sustainability of the garden project. The district was concerned that after Naftali graduated, stewardship of the garden would be in jeopardy.

10171772_753519324683974_4423161302092771180_nLaurie and Naftali got busy doing some strategic planning so that the garden would live a long life. Their ideas included creating a student Garden Advisory Group to address operating the garden throughout the school year. (It is mostly student maintained.) They proposed holding fundraisers that contribute to their operating budget. Additionally, they had the promise of scores of volunteers who would keep the garden growing.

But what convinced the district that the project would be a success was Laurie’s proposal to begin a cooking class. Her idea was to create an elective class in the old home-economics space where kids could take what they’d learned in the garden a step further. It would be in this classroom that kids learned the basics of cooking. Laurie’s aim was to teach students the skills to cook for themselves so they would stay away from processed foods. The district agreed, and a new class was born.

Laurie realized she was in need of help during that first year. She reached out to me because she is not a chef, nor has she had any formal culinary training. She is simply a passionate home cook who wouldn’t dream of buying bottled salad dressing. I jumped at the chance.

ColeenwithkidsSince the classes began four years ago, the curriculum has gotten tighter and more focused. The equipment has gone from mismatched pots and pans to color-coded stations (there are eight groups of students) that are well stocked with cooking tools.

By the third year, the class had become so popular that a second one was added. Today, produce from the 150-sq.-ft. garden continues to be used in the classroom so the students can learn to cook seasonally. They are introduced to new foods and cuisines and are encouraged to share recipes from their own backgrounds. “Top Chef”-style competitions are held throughout the school year, and the kids take pride in what they cook.

I manage to volunteer at least once a month in the class. A typical day starts with me walking into the classroom to the shouts of “Chef, I have a question!”, “Chef, can you help us?” and “Chef, what sauce goes with this?” I spend a few hours doling out cooking tips and encouragement. And I leave with the same feeling every time. It is the feeling that this class is going to have a long-lasting impact on these kids’ relationships with the food they eat. Hopefully it will be food they’ve cooked themselves.

10 Ways to Boost Profitability with Whole Grains, Part 2

DSCF1321By Jason Ziobrowski, CEC
Corporate Chef, Eastern Region

Whole grains are expected to remain “hot” with consumers in 2015. As I mentioned in the first part of this post on menuing whole grains successfully and profitably, growing interest in whole and ancient grains among diners and customers is a can’t-miss opportunity for chefs and operators to increase check averages—as well as repeat visits. Indeed, whole grains can be a powerful arrow in any foodservice operation’s profit-margin quiver.

But many whole grains generating the greatest buzz right now also cost more. How to boost the profit of a creative, interesting, flavorful dish without a customer’s wallet feeling pilfered? It all boils down to two things: perceived value (which embraces far more than merely the menu price) and smart operating.

Following are my final five of 10 helpful tips for chefs and operators to capitalize on cooking with whole grains.

6. Grain Power. Wild rice in a crêpe? Red rice in a waffle? Quinoa in a pizza crust? You bet. It’s not your mom’s recipe when you add a little whole grain to a batter or dough. And you can charge more because customers feel they’re paying for something special.

7. Waste Not, Want Not. Grains left on the steam table too long can lose their integrity and have to be refreshed with newly cooked product, which means dollars down the drain. Instead, par-cook grains, hold safely, and finish to order rather than hold all cooked product in a hot box. Finishing grains on an as-needed basis empowers you with portion control.

8. Not-Your-Ordinary Pilaf. Just as in the 1990s when side dishes became the rage on menus, they can still sell the dish. Who settles for blah rice on the side anymore? To fragrant basmati or jasmine rice, toss in some intriguing black barley with brown rice and daikon radish seeds. Or develop signature pilafs that replace traditional white rice with whole-grain wild rice, Greenwheat Freekeh™ or wheat berries—or better yet, a blend of interesting whole grains.

43d4f1233a00620c153a784fd58ac015_f12209. Starring in a Vegetarian Role. Whole grains are helping to push the vegetarian movement, which today includes a growing number of meatless-some-of-the-time “flexitarians.” Quinoa, for instance, is a complete protein on its own, containing all eight amino acids essential to optimal human health. Market it and other protein-packed grains like the filets of the vegetarian world they are. And charge appropriately.

10. Tell a Story. The back stories of ancient and heirloom grains propel diner interest. For example, freekeh is the accident of a millennia-old Middle Eastern war. Quinoa from the Andes is fertilized naturally thanks to wandering llamas and alpacas. And why is farro growing in popularity among chefs? One reason is the story behind it. For instance, our InHarvest farro has been sourced from the same family farm in Italy for years. Promote exotic grains’ fascinating histories to sell the dishes that feature them.

Real Food

Baby BybeeI’ve been thinking a lot lately about what food is to my children. My daughter, age 4, is obsessed with sugar. She would eat nothing but desserts if she could.  Since I’m a chef, everyone assumes that my daughter has an adventurous palate. But like all parents, I struggle to establish healthy habits and to get her to eat her veggies and grains. Real food.

Our diet is the number one factor in how healthy we are, and the statistics for Americans are scary to say the least. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, today nearly 70% of adults over 20 are overweight and 35%of Americans are obese[1].  Childhood obesity rates have been stuck at 17% since 2003, though it is good to note that obesity among very small children (aged 2-5) has been declining[2]. Heart disease and diabetes are in the top ten leading causes of death in America[3]. I don’t want my children to suffer from any of these issues – not on my watch!

So how do we reclaim our health and instill healthy habits in our children? We all grew up with different ideas as to what comfort food is. At its most basic, comfort food is food that reminds us of home, the food our parents cooked for us. For me, that’s chicken fried fill in the blank. For my children, and their generation, I want to redefine what comfort food is. If we can collectively build a healthy relationship with food, we will reverse those scary trends and enjoy a better quality of life.

What is real food?  Real food doesn’t come out of a box. It’s not in neat dinosaur shapes. It’s not glow in the dark yellow. Those foods are full of highly refined carbs and sugars. They are densely packed with cheap, empty calories. Real food is whole grains, whole muscle proteins, fresh fruits, and vegetables.

A lot of people feel intimidated by real food. They didn’t grow up preparing it, and they think it’s difficult or too time consuming to make after a long day at work. Part of my mission – and the mission of InHarvest – is to introduce people to healthy grains and debunk the notion that they are out of reach. It’s true that cooking food from scratch may take a little more time than pulling a box off a shelf, but it really doesn’t take much longer. If you can boil water, you can make healthy food. And the payoff is definitely worth it.





Overheard at SNA

Snippets and snapshots from the annual School Nutrition Association in Boston, July 13-16.


4 Ways to Take Your Grains Global

Mike Holleman Cynthia Harriman

Chef Mike with Cynthia Harriman, director of food and nutrition strategies, Whole Grains Council, at the NRA’s “A Grain of Truth,” a workshop presentation on ancient grains.

One of the greatest privileges in my position as InHarvest’s culinary director is serving as chair of the advisory board of the Whole Grains Council, part of Boston-based Oldways. Through that role, I get to be on the frontlines of consumer awareness and education around whole grains. I see how far we’ve come—and how far we can now go in menu development around whole grains. The world is literally our oyster.

We explored that world during the National Restaurant Association’s annual conference last May in Chicago. I teamed up with Cynthia Harriman, director of food and nutrition strategies at the Whole Grains Council, to demystify ancient grains and showcase their menu potential.

Whole grain salads, in my mind, offer the greatest opportunity for flavor exploration, and they’re the biggest drivers of menu innovation in whole grains right now. We’ve also seen the world of global flavors explode, where guests are seeking bold profiles that help place their dining experience in an exciting flavor culture. We’re always striving to make whole grains sexy—this pathway helps achieve that goal.

Cynthia and I created four global stations, where attendees could customize their whole grain salads with add-ins that offer global cues. Take a look and see if any of these might work for your operation. The feedback was great. One overarching comment was how the ingredients in the global builds made the whole grains exciting and still approachable—a win-win in menu development.

4f438a292577951288b7a2382e96bc3c_f11911. Latin Station 

  • Black Quinoa, cooked and chilled
  • Red Quinoa, cooked and chilled
  • Corn kernels, cooked
  • Black beans, cooked and drained
  • Tomato, fresh, seeded & diced
  • Cilantro, fresh chopped
  • White onion, fresh, diced then rinsed (to remove bitterness)
  • Jalapeño, sliced thin
  • Avocado, diced
  • Limes, fresh halved
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • Lime-Cilantro dressing (or any other Latin-profile dressing)

2. Mediterranean Station:

  • Greenwheat Freekeh, cooked and chilled
  • Kamut Wheat, cooked and chilled
  • Sun-dried tomatoes in oil, diced
  • Kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
  • Mint, fresh chopped
  • Oregano, fresh chopped
  • Spinach, fresh, julienne
  • Red onion, diced small
  • Feta cheese crumbles
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • Balsamic vinaigrette (or any other Mediterranean-profile dressing)

3. Asian Station:

  • Black Barley, cooked and chilled
  • White Barley, cooked and chilled
  • Carrot, shredded
  • Red cabbage, shredded
  • Scallion, bias cut
  • Snap peas, bias cut
  • Cilantro, fresh chopped
  • Ginger, fresh minced
  • Mango, fresh dice
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • Sesame-Ginger vinaigrette (or any other Asian-profile dressing)

4. Local-Regional Station:

  • Wild Rice, cooked and chilled
  • Red Rice, cooked and chilled
  • Zucchini, grilled, then diced
  • Red and Yellow Bell Pepper, seeded, grilled, then diced
  • Asparagus, grilled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Red Onion, grilled, then diced
  • Arugula, fresh
  • Parmesan or Pecorino cheese, shaved
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • Herb-based vinaigrette

86 the Potato Salad

Whole Grain Summer Salads

It’s summer — a perfect time for salads. At InHarvest, we’ve put together many great grain-based salads. Whole grain salads are a flavorful, healthy alternative to the customary pasta and potato salads that seem to populate company picnics and casual outdoor dining. Here are a few simple ways to wow your guests this season with whole grain salads.

Latin Chipotle Quinoa Salad

For a Latin slant, try our Chipotle Lime Quinoa Salad with vibrant InHarvest Red Quiona. It’s a perfect pairing with grilled chicken or pork.

Greenwheat Freekeh and Massaged Kale Salad

Our Greenwheat Freekeh and Massaged Kale Salad is an excellent option to pair with steaks, and raw kale is definitely on trend.

Golden Jewel Mediterranean Salad

The Golden Jewel Mediterranean Salad, with its bright flavors and colorful appeal, is perfect with salmon or lamb.

Strawberry Waldorf Salad with Cabernet Medley

For a twist on a more traditional summer salad, try our Strawberry Waldorf Salad with Cabernet Medley. The hearty rice blend really complements the fresh strawberries in this recipe.

10 Ways to Boost Profitability with Whole Grains, Part 1

By Jason Ziobrowski, CEC
Corporate Chef, Eastern Region

jayzGrains are “on trend” in 2014. According to industry analyst Technomic, Inc., grains play star roles on trendy menus, often because they’re central to some of today’s hottest ethnic cuisines.

Chefs and caterers can capitalize on growing interest in whole and ancient grains to entice their customers. What’s more, a number of grains—including quinoa, amaranth, millet, wild rice, oats and buckwheat—do not contain gluten, and can be instrumental in crafting intriguing, tasty, gluten-free dishes.

Admittedly, many whole grains that are most popular today, as well as those on the cusp of the trend, are pricey. How to take advantage of grains’ power to wow while keeping food costs under control and even boost menu profit? Following are the first five of 10 helpful tips, with the rest to follow in Part 2:

1. Brown: the New White. Readily available, brown rice is arguably the most familiar whole grain in the marketplace, and it’s economical. When making a whole-grain stir-fry, incorporate brown rice in a 1:2 or 1:3 ratio to the other grain to reduce overall cost of the dish while enhancing its flavor profile.

35d434eb17020653771a6d1c65668ff3_f12112. Cook with the Slant of the Sun. Seasonal produce and seafood at the peak of freshness tend to be cheaper because they’re abundant. Use them as a base for a dish, and enliven with a costlier exotic grain to increase value to the diner. And don’t forget to promote the grain on the menu with captivating language.

3. Eggs, Oh So Easy. Incorporate cooked wheat berries or kamut wheat into a frittata at breakfast, lunch or dinner, and to scrambled eggs, consider a spoonful or two of cooked quinoa (black, red, white or all three). Perceived value gets a lift from adding whole grains to eggs, meaning you can charge a higher price for a dish that already benefits from the healthy profit contribution of a highly economical food.

4. Partner with Protein. Ounce for ounce, many meats and seafoods are still more expensive than most grains. Replace some of the animal protein in a dish with an ancient whole grain or grain blend. Better yet, start with the grain, and treat the protein as the accompaniment or “condiment.” Cultures around the world have been cooking this way for millennia.5e30a803740369f169cbae2e8b2e90d3_f1235

5. The Ultimate Garnish. Pop some amaranth in a dry pan and crown some dressed romaine. On leafy salads, a small amount of any cooked grain goes a long way to increase overall appeal. But don’t stop there: Add cooked whole grain or grain blend to wrap sandwiches, to smoothies and yogurt parfaits, even to pizza as an innovative topper. Just an ounce of an exotic grain in a dish not only adds textural contrast, but can command a higher menu price, which can more than cover its cost.

In Part 2, I’ll discuss the marketing power of storytelling, how to reduce food waste (and cost), using whole grains strategically to upscale meatless dishes, and more!

What Keeps Me In The Kitchen

Photo courtesy of the Ross School, Facebook

Photo courtesy of the Ross School, Facebook

When a recent article touting the 10 Best School Lunches began to make its way around the internet, I eagerly clicked through to see the results. I was delighted when I realized that I’d been involved with three of the ten programs.  The article caused me to reflect on my career in the world of K-12 school lunches.

The Ross School, a private school located in the Hamptons, was where I became passionate about school lunches. I supervised the kitchen and oversaw meals, and most importantly, I met Ann Cooper, the Executive Chef. It was here that I became inspired to pursue this career path. I enjoyed many years cooking for kids at Ross before I was ready for a change.

It is quite a jump from private school lunches to public school lunches.  But when Berkeley Unified School District called me to consult on their school lunch overhaul, I took that leap.  I packed up and moved to the Bay Area with a copy of the USDA Food Buying Guide and the National School Lunch Program guidelines at the ready.  Again, I worked with Ann Cooper, this time on recipe and menu development.

The work we did in Berkeley got the attention of Boulder Valley School District and we were invited to conduct a feasibility study to determine what it would take to bring healthy school lunches to the district.  I helped implement the first few years of their program which is now going strong.

It’s great that these schools have been recognized, as many of their programs serve as great models for other districts that are making changes to their programs.  But I’m equally proud of all the other foodservice directors, schools, and districts I work with on a daily basis that haven’t quite made the top ten.  Every child deserves the kind of lunches that are served up by these pioneering schools and a lot of work is being done out there to make similar changes.  That’s what keeps me in the kitchen.