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September 2016 Event: NY Design Day

This year our Art Appreciation Day focused on “Design”. The kids met at the PAL offices and were treated to presentations on restaurant design by Laurent Halasz, residential design by Will Williams and fashion design by Georgine and Chris of “Georgine”. We were very fortunate to have such successful and talented people give of their time so generously. The kids had a lot of questions and came away inspired by what they heard. The day ended with everyone sharing a meal from Fig & Olive!

August 2016 Event: NY Fishing Trip

Wednesday, August 17 was the NYC Annual Fishing Trip. We traveled by bus from the Harlem PAL Center to Sheepshead Bay. Once there, we boarded the “Captain’s Lady” and headed out for a day of fishing.  This was a first-time experience for most of the kids and they enjoyed a beautiful, sunny ride into the Bay. The views of all the NYC boroughs were magnificent! 

We fished for flounder and ended up catching a quite a few – no “keepers” though! We also caught a few other types of fish and all-in-all it was a successful endeavor! 

On the way back to Harlem, we made our traditional stop at Coney Island to ride the Cyclone and Thunderbolt! It was a great day, with lots of memories!

August 2016 Event: LA Farmers Market Challenge & Cooking Class

On Wednesday, August 3rd in Los Angeles, a group of student participants, PAL officers, F&K board members, Chef Sam and the fabulous team at Fig & Olive Melrose met at the Santa Monica Farmers Market to participate in the Farmers Market Challenge. 

The students broke into four teams, and each team had thirty dollars to purchase items to create a salad. Students were encouraged to engage in dialogue with the farmers to determine if the product was certified organic, whether organic methods were used in its production, where the farm was located, etc.  Each team had approximately fifty minutes to purchase the items for the salad (requiring them to use their negotiation skills and creativity), stay on budget (developing financial skills), and learn about the farmers' products (practicing listening skills).  A lot of teamwork was on display, and the group could have happily stayed at the farmers' market for most of the day!

The second half of the day was spent preparing the salads at Fig & Olive in Melrose with the ingredients that each team had purchased.  With Chef Sam and his team's encouragement and help, the teams came up with some amazing salads.  A big thank you to Chef Sam and his team for helping to cultivate the creativity that flowed from the students and produced a beautiful meal!

The students enjoyed a family meal together with the salads, pasta, chicken, and zucchini flowers!  Over dinner the group discussed the freshness of the seasonal ingredients, how that affected taste, and what everyone had learned from the farmers.   

The students left with a healthy goodie bag of fresh pluots, tangerines and a jar of honey, all seasonal and locally produced.  All in all, a lovely day for everyone involved!

July 2016 Event: NY Farmers Market Shopping Challenge & Cooking Class

On Wednesday, July 20, the kids from our NYC program participated in the Farmers Market Shopping Challenge, followed by a cooking class and lunch at Fig & Olive. 

The kids were divided into three teams: Chef Tim's team, Founder Laurent's team and Board member Debbie's team. Each team had the same list of ingredients to buy. The challenge was to see which team could get the best ingredients (vegetable and fruits) for the least amount of money. Along with that, the kids were given a list of items at the market to find as a scavenger hunt and challenged to find and photograph as many of the items on the list as they could.

After the shopping was finished, the kids took everything back to Fig & Olive and prepared a nutritious, delicious lunch with what they had purchased: heirloom tomato pasta salad, garden salad with chicken paillard, fried zucchini blossoms, and finally, strawberries and melon for dessert! They loved learning how fresh, simple ingredients can create such a satisfying meal.

During lunch the team winners were announced and prizes from the Market were awarded. It was a great day for all!

June 2016 Event: Brooklyn Grange Rooftop Farm Visit & Shake Shack

For our June event, everyone boarded a bus to Queens where we were taken on a tour of the Brooklyn Grange Rooftop Farm. Thanks to our knowledgeable guides from the farm, we received a wonderful education in sustainable farming and learned how to get great local produce in the middle of a huge city. Chickens, bees, tons of different vegetables and flowers, and interactive discussions made for a fun and informative experience.

This was followed by a visit to Shake Shack where the kids explored the menu and discussed healthy choices. Part of the Farm & Kitchen annual curriculum includes reading Setting the Table, written by Shake Shack's founder, Danny Meyer, so the visit also served to provide the kids with context about the book they're reading and to inspire them to learn more about the restaurant business.

May 2016 Event: Wellness Seminar & Yoga Class

Our second May event at the Harlem PAL Center was hosted by Debbie Williams, a certified Health Coach, RN and a Farm and Kitchen Board member. Topics discussed included 'The danger of added sugar', 'The importance of reading food labels', 'Portion control', and 'Fast Food: making healthier choices'.

The discussion was lively and everyone enjoyed healthy snacks while participating.  This was followed by a yoga session led by local yoga instructor, Alida Collins. She focused on helping the kids understand how to be more mindful in the moment, showing them relaxation/breathing  techniques and giving them some simple stretches that could be used anywhere to alleviate tension. 

May 2016 Event: Job Readiness Seminar

In May, we held a job readiness seminar at the Harlem PAL Center where we focused on getting our participants prepared for the job search. Fig & Olive HR staff members, Barbara Romano and Melissa Santilli, talked to the participants about the importance of preparing for job interviews and making a good first impression. Their real-world experience in hiring made a big impact on the kids. Bobby Ferazi, Director of Juvenile Justice & Re-entry Services at PAL, had the participants fill out a sample job application. He then walked through it with them giving them helpful suggestions for each answer and advising what to expect when they begin applying for jobs. This was followed by some fun job interview role-playing with the PAL staff and other examples of how to make a good first impression. It was a lot to learn but a great day for the kids.

April 2016 Event: Immersion Weekend

Our 2016 program began in April with a three-day weekend of events.

We started our first day by meeting at the PAL offices. Once everyone had introduced themselves, we headed a few blocks north to the nearby Union Square Greenmarket. A representative of the market gave us some background on how the market operates to serve NYC and a short cooking demonstration using produce from local vendors, followed by a tour of the market.

Day 2 was held at Fig and Olive Meatpacking where Chef Tim and the F&O staff treated the kids to a cooking demonstration and workshop. The kids learned how to make fish en papillote, zucchini carpaccio and apple tart. After the class, the group sat down to enjoy the fruits of their labor for lunch. 

Day 3 was an opportunity for the kids to tour Fig & Olive, including an overview of all the various jobs that are part of the restaurant business. This was followed by service training and an exercise where the participants waited on and served lunch to one another.  

It was a very full weekend that allowed us all to get to know one another and to set the tone for an exciting year ahead!