Larry presented to a cafeteria full of community members and school employees
Larry Anthony, the food director for the Pine Plains Central School District, Red Hook Central School District, and Rhinebeck Central School District, led the much anticipated “Souper Bowl” at Stissing Mountain High School on Tuesday.
It was the first event in the Community Connections series, which like its name implies, seeks to connect the community by hosting events on various topics that brings community members and school employees together.
“We created the Community Connections Committee with the intent of increasing community engagement between the district and the community; to ‘build a bridge’ so to speak, between the school community and the greater community,” said Brian Timm, Superintendent of the Pine Plains Central School District.
Speaking to a cafeteria full of community members and school employees, Dr. Timm stated, “We are very excited to host the ‘Souper Bowl’ and I think we have a great turnout here! The goal, of course, is to schedule more events like this in the future. They don’t have to be led by a school staff member either. In fact, we encourage members of the community to reach out and share their talent, hobby, or unique skill. It could be a tutorial on how to do your taxes, gardening tips, knitting, whatever. These are the opportunities we’re looking for that bring people together.”
“Soup is very forgiving,” Larry, who attended the Culinary Institute of America, noted multiple times during the demonstration.
Larry taught the room how to make chicken stock from scratch, and then how to use that stock to make broccoli cheddar and Tuscan chicken soups.
At the beginning of the demonstration, he stressed the importance of the traditional French cooking methods he learned at the Culinary Institute. ‘Mise en place,’ or everything in its place, is the idea of having everything prepped ahead of time to make cooking easier.
Another French term that he shared with the room was mirepoix, or the combination of diced onions, carrots, and celery that is cooked in fat and used as a foundation for dishes including sauces, soups, and other recipes. “The base to a good soup is a good stock,” he said as he taught the room how to debone chicken and keep the bones for stock.
“I use about five pounds of bones to three quarts of water. I keep my bones in the freezer in a labeled bag, because once I thought we had a package of chicken breasts and I took the bag out only to discover that it was full of bones, so make sure you label the bag!” he joked.
Larry said that he cooks his chicken stock for four to five hours, and he also said that you can use any chicken parts in the stock, including feet, skin, necks, etc. “Put everything in there! We want to really grab the flavor out of the chicken.”
He said that the stock only lasts four to five days in the refrigerator, so it’s important to either use it immediately or freeze it for later use. “I always say that fresh is best.”
Next on the roster was the broccoli cheddar soup. He started by creating a roux with butter and flour, then slowly adding the chicken stock and the remainder of the ingredients.
He also demonstrated other skills throughout the event, such as safe knife skills and how to use kitchen gadgets including infrared thermometers and immersion blenders. “You can buy a lot of ingredients pre-packaged and cut to the size that you want, but the more often you use your knife skills, the better you’ll be.”
Community member Heather Dell’Amore came prepared with two “Souper Bowl” signs
Finally, he made a Tuscan chicken soup with kale and white beans. I think it was fair to say that everyone in the room was openly drooling once it was time to sample the soups.
Importance of Community Connections
Larry said that the Community Connections Program is vital for the Pine Plains community.
“The purpose is to share knowledge, and being in a school, that’s what we do,” he said. “Food also brings people together, so that’s a great attribute to building the relationship with the community. I always say if you get more than two people in a room, somebody’s looking for food.”
If you are a member of the Pine Plains CSD community and would like to share an idea for a community connections event, please contact the Superintendent’s Office at firstname.lastname@example.org.