Project Localize

This past fall the HSMSE Gastronomy students participated in the Lexicon of Sustainability’s (LOS) pilot program called Project Localize. For those of you unfamiliar with LOS, founders Douglas Gayeton and Laura Howard-Gayeton create stunning, large scale information artwork composed of dozens of photos and the words of those they interview.  Each artwork tells the story of people who champion methods of sustainable food production and becomes a “term” in the growing lexicon of sustainability. Check out their incredible work here.

Last year, LOS piloted a program called Project Localize and they invited high school students from around the country to document the stories in their region, hoping that through the process, the kids would discover how complex the term “sustainability” really is. Our team was the only school in NYC to participate and we took the opportunity to investigate our unique and complex urban foodscape.  So for our part, the MSE Gastronomy kids interviewed and photographed our five “subjects” and they photoshopped their little hearts out to compose the works.  Once printed, each artwork will be around 4×6 feet, making it much easier to read all the fine print. But to help you out a bit, we included the main definition underneath each artwork below.
Slaughterhouse Live
Madani Halal
Ozone Park, Queens
At Madani Halal they believe consumers must be “re-sensitized” to the sourcing and processing of their meat.  Imran establishes relationships with farmers to ensure that the animals are raised humanely.  Once they arrive at Madani, the poultry, lambs, and goats are slaughtered in an open setting where the customers fully appreciate the lives that are given for their sustenance and gustatory pleasure.
Market Makeover
Moore Street Market
Bushwick, Brooklyn
Public markets can connect rural and urban economies, provide business opportunities for local vendors, and increase access to healthy and sustainable food.  Perhaps most importantly, they can provide a safe gathering place for residents of the neighborhood to eat good food and celebrate their cultures.  The market is an incubator for potential businesses.  It helps them develop more revenue by connecting them with consumers.  We interviewed Adam Tiberio to learn more about his role in rebuilding the Moore Street Market, one of only four public markets in New York City.
Lunch Box Heroes
PS 20 Anna Silver School
New York, NY
The kids met with chef, Bill Telepan, to learn more about the work he does with Wellness in the Schools (WITS).  He joined WITS in 2008 believing healthier bodies make healthier minds.  WITS partners chefs like Telepan with culinary school graduates like Sara to help public school cafeteria staff create healthy and tasty lunch options.  Thus, children can establish good eating habits in school which they can practice in the future.
Local Source to Store
Five Acre Farms’ partnership with Samascott Orchards
Kinderhook, NY
Five Acre Farms partners with farmers like Jake Samascott to help them access new markets that would be difficult for them to tap on their own.  Whenever consumers see the Five Acre Farms label, they know they can trust the quality of the product.  We visited Jake to observe and participate in the sourcing and production of his cider in which his sustainably raised apples are the only ingredient.
HSMSE Gastro
Food (Re)Considered
The HSMSE Gastronomy classroom
New York, NY
We decided to open the doors to our classroom to show that Gastronomy is a serious academic discipline best explored through thoughtful discussion, pleasure and experience, and should be a valued part of the high school curriculum.  Teenagers are at a ripe age to weigh the consequences of their choices and intellectually grapple with the political, ethical, environmental and health implications.  Through challenging readings, tastings, and field trips, we should engage students to (re)consider their food.

The Kid Stays in the Kitchen: Galit Roasts the Turkey!


Welcome back to “The Kid Stays in the Kitchen.”  Each week throughout the semester, a student is assigned to cook a traditional dish with a friend or family member and document the experience in photos and words.  This week features Galit, who braved some drama to deliver a roast turkey dinner with her grandma.

“Grandma’s Turkey Dinner” has become famous in my family, and it’s an event each year. My family are Ashkenazi Jews from a smattering of countries in Europe such as Poland, Germany and Russia. But because of the Jewish tradition of kashrut, we do not consume non-kosher meat and therefore are unable to eat the turkey at the Thanksgiving dinner we attend each year. So, the need for turkey is always fulfilled when we visit our Grandma’s house in Florida each February.

As I mentioned, this dinner is quite the event for us and last year was no exception.  In addition to the ingredients and love, she also added a dose of drama to the evening! Grandma and I made the mistake of basking in the hot Florida sun that afternoon before we made our meal and it turned out the turkey was not the only item to get cooked. When Grandma was slaving away in the kitchen later that evening she collapsed next to the turkey. We called an ambulance and she was rushed to the hospital. In the end, my Grandma was fine and although she gave all of us a panic attack, she insists that we overreacted and she would have been fine if she just got up and had a glass of orange juice. Oh Grandma!

This year, making a turkey with my grandmother was thankfully less dramatic and now I can appreciate all the dedication that goes into this tradition which I hope will be continued for years to come.”


Turkey (13.8 lbs.)
Garlic Powder
Pure Ground Black Pepper
Sweet Peas
Whole Kernel Corn
Dinner Rolls
Jellied Cranberry Sauce


  1. Defrost Turkey for two days (in fridge).
  2. Pre heat oven to 325 F.
  3. Line pan with aluminum foil.
  4. Unwrap Turkey and take off extraneous feathers.
  5. Wash Turkey (inside and out!) under cold water.
  6. Remove extra fat, neck, and any loose internal organs.
  7. Place Turkey on pan.
  8. Take a handful of Margarine, and rub all over the Turkey (including under its wings and legs).
  9. Sprinkle paprika, pepper, salt, and garlic all over Turkey (about 1 tablespoon of each).
  10. With aluminum foil on pan, and more if needed, completely wrap the Turkey so that no part of it is visible.
  11. Place Turkey in oven and bake at 325 F for 25 min/ pound. When there are 30 min left, remove aluminum foil and allow Turkey to continue cooking (to brown).
  12. Remove Turkey from oven and cool for 1 hour, then carve to your liking.
  13. Wash large, plump baking potatoes and prick three times with fork.
  14. Place in oven at 350 F for one hour.
  15. Remove and mash with salt and margarine.
  16. Remove lids of cans of peas and corn, and allow water to leak from cans.
  17. Pour contents of cans into bowl and microwave each for 1 minute 30 seconds.
  18. Open can of Jellied Cranberry Sauce and pour into bowl and slice.
  19. Preheat oven to 425 F.
  20. Remove rolls from package and separate.
  21. Place on ungreased baking sheet.
  22. Bake seven to ten minutes.

The Kid Stays in the Kitchen: Sam Rocks Beef Stew!


Welcome back to “The Kid Stays in the Kitchen.” Each week throughout the semester, a student is assigned to cook a traditional dish with a friend or family member and document the experience in photos and words.  This post features Sam who teams up with his grandma Joanie to make his favorite: beef stew.

I chose to cook beef stew with my Grandma Joanie because it is one of my favorite meals and because it is something which my grandma has been cooking and serving for as long as I can remember. She knows that my mom, dad, sister and I like it so much, that when my mom goes to visit her, she will send back home frozen containers of the stew.  And anytime she asks to cook it our response is always a resounding yes!  We often share it Friday nights when my family can all sit down at the table and eat together. My great-grandparents are from Russia and Romania and my grandma started making it because her family made brisket and she wanted to improve the dish. It is a favorite meal for a two reasons:  I can never turn down a hearty meal, especially one filled with meat and potatoes and secondly, it only gets better in the following days.  It’s the meal that keeps on giving!”



  • 4lbs cubed chuck
  • 1 – 2  large onions, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • 6 carrots, peeled and cut into rounds
  • 4 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoon of organic beef base
  • 2 1/2 cups of water
  • 1 tablespoon of sea-salt and ground black pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 10 red bliss potatoes

Equipment other than knife, cutting board, etc.

  • Heavy duty Skillet
  • Cast iron porcelain lined pot with cover


1. Trim excess fat from beef cubes

2. Heat heavy duty skillet.

3. Place small batches of beef into pan to brown.

4. Brown meat on all sides.

5. Remove from pan and place into heavy duty pot; add salt and pepper.

6. Add one cup of water to pan and scrape brownings from bottom of pan.  Pour into the pot with meat.

8. Peel carrots and cut them into bite size rounds.  Place them into a separate bowl.

11. Peel and chop onions.

12. Heat up pan and put in oil.

13. Add onions.

14. Once translucent, add celery and salt and pepper to taste.

15. Add minced garlic and cook for a few minutes.

16. Take vegetable mix off heat and add to big pot.

17. Add about 1 1/2 cups of water to pan for drippings and add carrots to stew pot.

19. Cover on medium high heat.

20. Wash potatoes.

21. Slice potatoes to ½ inch thickness with skin on.

22. Mix into stew.

23. Add soy sauce, beef base, and bay leaf.

24. Stir and cover with lid.

25. Stew for 2-3 hours on low heat or until meat is tender.

The Kid Stays in the Kitchen: Emilie’s Arroz con Leche

emilie (step 2)
lidia pouring evaporated millk (step 3)
lidia stirring water (step 1)
step 2
step 4
step 5

Welcome back to “The Kid Stays in the Kitchen.” Each week throughout the semester, a student is assigned to cook a traditional dish with a friend or family member and document the experience in photos and words.  This post features Emilie who made rice pudding with her close family friend, Lidia.

Having a very large family, we are lucky that we always want to get together as much as possible.  We are all very close! I come from a Dominican family, and when we spend time together, it is usually more than 30 people crammed into my grandma’s tiny apartment, with her tiny little Yorkie yelping at us for some human food. My grandma is usually in the kitchen with her closest friends, Lidia and China, cooking all of the rich and fatty Hispanic foods you can think of such as pernil (pork shoulder) or moro (rice and beans).  After we’ve all had dinner, we eat arroz con leche, also known as rice pudding, made by Lidia. I love how sweet it is, and in particular I love its texture. It is so creamy and warm, served as soon as it is done cooking, and this particular version is very dense and thick. Its smell always brings me back to moments when my mom used to cook it for me when I was sick. It was my favorite food, and still is one of my favorites. Although my mother’s rice pudding recipe is pretty good, I have never tried any rice pudding better than Lidia’s.”                                                                                                                                                            – Emilie



  • 8 cups of water
  • 3 ½ cups of white rice
  • 7 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 lime’s skin peeled
  • 24 fluid ounces of evaporated milk
  • 14 fluid ounces of condensed milk
  • 3 cups of organic cane sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • (optional) ground cinnamon for finish

Servings: 40


1.     Add the water, cinnamon sticks, and lime peel into a pot. Heat until the water starts to boil.

2.     Pour the rice into the boiling water and cook for about 30 minutes. Stir occasionally.

3.     While the rice is cooking, add the evaporated milk, salt, vanilla extract, and sugar into another pot and cook for about 30 minutes.

4.     Pour the milky mixture into the rice pot and cook it for 20-25 more minutes, stirring occasionally.

5.     Pour the condensed milk into the mixture, cooking it for about 10 more minutes.

Then, it’s ready to eat! Sprinkle some ground cinnamon over the rice pudding for more flavor.

Let the Hunt Begin!: Part One

Teachers in the NYC Department of Education — and I imagine in general — are not allowed to accept gifts from individual students unless they are of sentimental or small financial value.  (I wonder if teachers can create a SuperPAC?) And I admit that I occasionally lust after the idea of a yearly bonus or even a decent bottle of champagne as a you-survived-another-year-gesture from the Chancellor.  But I also wish that 100% of my students would submit their work 100% of the time after giving 100% of their effort.  As a teacher, I’ve learned I can’t always get what I want.

But last week I did.

Let me first back up to early fall, when I was tutoring my student, Roger*.  In addition to having him in my senior English class, I met with him to work on his college applications and like many of my tutoring sessions, ours often ended with discussions about food.  Roger and his family come from China and his dad cooks in a restaurant in Manhattan’s Chinatown so we talked often about how well he must eat at home.  I often asked him what he brought for lunch or what he looked forward to for dinner. I hounded him for tips on secret spices or the best grocers. I bugged him for the names of dishes they serve only to Chinese-speaking customers at his father’s restaurant.  I wanted poor Roger to unlock the secrets to our city’s Chinatown, the one that is only accessible to those in the know.  I stood with my nose pressed up to the window of a great meal and I wanted in.

But Roger was far more interested in fixing his essay, not feeding his teacher, so I relented and talked narrative structure and tension instead.  (Not surprisingly, and no thanks to my distractions, Roger got in to a very good school.  Congrats!)

Last week my seniors submitted the final drafts of their research papers and though Roger had already added his to the class pile, I noticed him scribbling at his desk. With my best Larry David stare, I caught his attention and he approached my desk with a piece of paper in his hand.  In the top right corner it said, “Ms. Boylan’s Food Adventure” and below was a list written entirely in Chinese characters.  Some were highlighted and some were starred.  I was giddy with intrigue.

“My dad wrote his recommendations for you,” he said. “The highlighted characters are the names of the restaurants and the stars are the dishes that are not on the menus.”
“Thank you so much.  This is great,” I replied. “But how will I know where to go, Rog?”
“Just go to Chinatown and point to the list.”

And there it is.  The best gift a teacher could receive is a treasure map! Maybe I’ll take my EatNYC kids on the adventure with me.  But only one question remains:  how will I write the DOE permission slip?

*The name of the student is changed.