The Episcopal School of Knoxville (ESK) decided they could have healthier kids and a better lunch program if they converted a portion of their farm-like acreage and turned it into actual farm. Headmaster Jay Secor and Head Chef, Renee Nye (along with many others from ESK) have been collaborating with Mahasti, founder and co-owner of The Tomato Head, to revamp their school’s food program. The results have not only been delicious, but inspiring.
Secor and Nye joined Mahasti on WBIR this morning as she presented The Episcopal School of Knoxville’s Mac-n-Cheese recipe, and together they shared more of the ESK story. The school truly took a “soup to nuts” approach as they assessed and changed their program—converting acreage into gardens and space for chickens, committing to buying local as much as possible, even baking bread from scratch and preparing food to order. The focus of the food at ESK is now on freshness, taste, and healthiness.
“It can seem overwhelming at first,” noted Mahasti, speaking of the changes and new approaches she introduced to ESK. “But it’s actually easier than everyone thinks. And it’s so much better for the school and the children.” Secor and Nye proudly agree.
In fact, the consultation process that Mahasti provided went so well, she’s excited about working with other schools who may be interested in developing a healthier food program. And most kids are thrilled to know they’re school lunch has a Tomato Head touch.
Of course, Mac-n-Cheese is a much beloved dish for many kids. ESK students love the new version they get to eat in their dining hall, and Mahasti shared the school’s recipe this morning on WBIR.
(In addition, both the Maryville & Knoxville restaurants will be serving a very special take on this Mac-n-Cheese recipe today. It’s very different, but once you try it, you’ll swear by it—this delicious mac-n-cheese on a pizza topped with Benton’s Bacon and Roasted Onion. Unforgettable yum.)
Episcopal School’s Macaroni and Cheese
For the White Sauce:
4 oz unsalted butter
2 oz flour
4 cups Cruze Farm milk
1 cup heavy cream
1.5 tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
In a large skillet, or medium sauce pan, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and whisk constantly until no more lumps remain. Add remaining ingredients and whisk constantly until sauce thickens.
Yields 5 cups
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place cooked pasta in a large bowl. Add cheese, heavy cream and 4 cups of the white sauce to the bowl and mix until well incorporated. Save remaining sauce for later use.
Place macaroni and cheese in a 3 quart baking dish. Sprinkle with some additional shredded cheese.
Bake for 20 – 25 minutes until dish is bubbling and cheese has melted. Remove from oven and allow macaroni and cheese to sit for 5 minutes and serve.
Serves 8 – 10
If serving fewer than 8 people the recipe can be followed up to the point of placing the macaroni and cheese in a baking dish. You may place as much of the mixture as desired in a smaller baking dish, baking only what is needed, saving the remainder of the mixture for baking the next day.