Chef Spotlight: Chef Christina Oswald
Chef Christina Oswald, SNS is a member of the Taher Chef Council and works primarily with our K-12 school clients. Learn more about how she brings healthy eating tips and snacks to kids and makes it fun!
Woking In Early
What got you interested in cooking?
I grew up in a household where everything was homemade. I spent weekends baking with my grandmother and to be honest, I’ve never wanted to do anything else! When I was seven, I got my first cookbook for Easter. It’s Mickey Mouse and I still have it! At age ten I got my first pasta machine and at twelve my first wok. I still have the wok and I bring it to the schools I visit!
What is one of your favorite ingredients to work with?
Fresh herbs of any kind, but especially basil and cilantro. I always have fresh herb growing on my patio in the summer.
What is one of your favorite meals to make for yourself or through Taher?
I really enjoy Penne with Vodka sauce because it uses fresh basil. As for recipes through Taher, I love experimenting with recipes that we bring back from our latest Chef Council trip.
What’s a go-to recipe for either Taher’s Chef Competition or for a picky eater at home?
If I was participating in a Chef Competition, probably something from Latin America. There’s so much to work with. As for home, I’ll make some kind of chicken soup for my daughter. It doesn’t matter the kind, chicken noodle, chicken dumpling, it’s fantastic!
Tell us about some of your favorite Chef Council trip memories:
So many of the trips have been memorable! I loved going to Israel. Professionally, it was an amazing opportunity to experience the food and flavor. Personally, it was so enriching to experience the people and culture and history. The people were so gracious and it was humbling to be around all the history of the region.
Chef Christina and Kids
What’s something that you like to teach a student or apprentice or new chef?
Teaching how to make healthy, age appropriate snacks is a big one. You don’t teach high schoolers how to make Ants on a Log! Learning to eat healthy starts young and once they get old enough to operate a blender, it gets fun. We can teach them new and different smoothies.
Do you have any favorite things about working in schools with kids?
I love how honest and blunt they are. If kids don’t like something, they’ll tell you! And it’s never in a mean way, they just want to tell you.
Kids also make the day better. It doesn’t matter if you’ve burned something five minutes ago and you’re frustrated, but the time the third kid comes through your line you’re smiling and laughing with them. I really want to make the cafeteria a warm and welcoming place.
Is there anything you would tell a young woman wanting to get into food service as a chef?
Stay in school and get as much education as you can. Don’t be afraid to fail. Food service is still a very male dominated area, but don’t let that stop you. Do your own thing and make it great.
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