Chef Peter X. Kelly, a champion of the farm-to-table movement in the Hudson Valley, has a new job: Teaching children how to prepare locally grown food at the new Peter X. Kelly Teaching Kitchen at Hudson Valley Hospital Center.
The kitchen and organic garden, along with a twice-monthly farmers market and locally sourced food for hospital patients, are part of an initiative by Hudson Valley Hospital Center to encourage healthy eating habits and educate the community on childhood obesity.
“The commitment of the hospital has been amazing,” says Kelly. “This program should be a model for other communities and other hospitals.”
The Young Chefs of the Hudson Valley program focuses on adolescents, but there are also courses for cardiology patients, breastfeeding mothers and those with gluten sensitivities. And for an upcoming Signature Chef series, notable local chefs will prepare fundraising dinners for the program.
Kelly walked us through the new kitchen, and shared some of the plans for the space.
Whom does the program serve?
We had a group of 11-, 12- and 13-year-old kids from Peekskill here for the Young Chefs program. They took the bus after school and by the end were dicing vegetables like pros!
How did the kitchen come about?
It was a year-long process to design, construct and pursue donations. Lumber for the garden was donated, Kohls sent volunteers over, children of cancer survivors painted tiles for decoration. When you look at where the money all came from, it is the hospital and the community. It’s a true grassroots effort. Volunteers have gone above and beyond.
What are the goals of the program?
We want to teach kids from a young age how to take the sugar and fat out, and how to make a healthy snack for themselves. These kids are not being exposed to fresh fruits and vegetables. Then they go out to our garden and pull a carrot out of the ground for the first time, and they used to think it came from a can. We’re showing them how to take the fresh and healthy ingredients and make things like frozen grapes or chicken burritos. It’s a fun environment.
Can you give us any names of chefs signed on for the Signature Chef Series?
Well, there are four dinners per year planned that represent the chef and the season. We’ve got Waldy Malouf, dean at the Culinary Institute of America; Eric Gabrynowicz of Restaurant North; Anthony Goncalves from 42; Dave DiBari from The Cookery and Ethan Kostbar from Moderne Barn. The chefs donate their time and all of the proceeds go to the Young Chefs program.
All classes cost $15. To register, visit Hudson Valley Hospital Center’s event calendar at www.hvhc.org/events/calendar.