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the smile behind our lunch line

3 Jan
2013-11-29_19-35-03 Happy New Year everyone! We hope you had a wonderful break, are feeling recharged, and are staying safe in the snow. We love featuring our Food Service Staff on our blog. They are so vital to the success of our programs. They are the face, the smile, the nurturing voice behind our lunch lines, helping our students make decisions, encouraging them to try new foods, and making lunch fun for our communities. Which is why we are featuring Vernan Douglas who is our Food Service Utility Attendant at one of our schools where we serve lunch. His enthusiasm for his role within Butter Beans, and love for supporting our students at lunch time inspired us to interview him.

What brought you to Butter Beans? A very good friend of mine was working for the company for over a year at the time. She kept speaking about how exciting and different it was, so I insisted on giving it a shot.

What are some of your highlights from your time working with the students? 

There is a student that always asks me if certain foods are Kosher. I always understood the basics about Kosher foods, but not all of the intricacies. He came up to me recently and asked me to sit down with him at lunch, and he explained to me all about what Kosher means. Our conversation inspired me to read more about it, and now I am much more knowledgeable. I was impressed with his awareness of his dietary restrictions.

Have you noticed a change in the food habits of the students?  Many of our students did not eat vegetables at the start of the school year. Though many of them are vegetarians, they would sometimes prefer to eat nothing over eating vegetables. When some students started choosing vegetables, we would congratulate them on how awesome their plates looked, and slowly their peers wanted some recognition too! Not only are they now consuming more vegetables, but they get so excited when they see the daily veggies that we offer. It feels good to see them walk off with their colorful plates!

What motivates you to do your best each day?

I enjoy feeding people good food, I enjoy smiles, and I am big on great health. The children that I serve on a daily basis are our future; if I can serve them a great meal and they come back and thank me, or tell me how great the food was, that’s enough motivation for me to do what I do everyday without a doubt. What do you like the most about your job? No matter what may be going on in my life, the students are always there for me, genuinely happy, and giving me hugs and high fives…that feeling there is priceless.

What is your favorite Butter Beans lunch to eat? The shepherd’s pie is AMAZING. That is by far my favorite lunch yet. I also enjoy our cheesy broccoli soup, I’ve never had anything like it!

beautiful stir fry

15 Nov

IMG_1753Love stir fry, but are a getting a little tired of using brown rice as your base?

Switch it up, and swap in some black rice instead.

Not only will it add extra dimension and excitement to your otherwise common stir fry, it will also add in other nutrients like the antioxidant anthocyanin (which can also be found in blueberries, acai berries, blackberries, red cabbage etc…), along with packing in added protein and fiber, in comparison to brown rice.

So why not give it a go? Here’s how (use up those lonely veggies in your fridge):

Prep Time: 5 minutes Total time: 45 minutes Serves: 4-6


  • Black rice, 1 cup
  • Water, 2 cups
  • Sesame oil, 2-3 tbsp
  • Tamari, 3-4 tbsp
  • Ginger, 1 inch piece, peeled
  • Garlic, 3 cloves, pressed
  • Tofu, 1 package, drained, and marinated for at least 30 minutes
  • Yellow onion, 1, chopped
  • Carrots, 2 medium, chopped
  • Broccoli, 4 florets, chopped
  • Cauliflower, 4 florets, chopped
  • Celery, 2 stems, chopped
  • Sesame seeds, garnish


1. Marinate tofu: Drain water out of package. Place tofu on a plate, then cover with another plate. Place a heavy book or pan on top, let sit for 5 minute intervals, draining the water each time. Once most of the water is drained, drizzle tofu with tamari, cover and let it marinate for at least 30 minutes.

2. Cook rice: While your tofu is marinating, make your rice! Add black rice and water to a pot, bring to a boil, then to a simmer. Let cook for ~30 minutes, or until water has dissolved.

2. Prep: While the rice is cooking, prep your veggies, and take out a pan and a wooden spoon.

3. Cook: Over medium heat, add sesame oil to your pan. Then add in your onion and let cook until translucent. Add your veggies, then drizzle 1/2 of your tamari into the pan. Cover, cook for 10-12 minutes, mixing periodically, until all veggies become tender. Add in tofu, and mix in. Add in black rice, and mix in. Drizzle remaining tamari, mix again.

4. Serve: Plate the stir fry, and garnish with sesame seeds for a beautiful juxtaposition of colors. Enjoy!

avocado cheddar melts

13 Nov

IMG_2713Yes, that’s right – the two most delicious ingredients combined together to make an impressive tasting, and filling little open-faced sandwich.

An amazing remedy for the lunch time blues in no time!

Prep time: 3 minutes Total time: 8 minutes


Serves 1

  • 2 pieces of your favorite bread
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced
  • 4 thin slices of cheddar cheese
  • red onion, thinly slice
  • mustard
  • black pepper


1. Prep: Preheat oven to 350F. Slice avocado, cheddar and onion. Take out your bread, mustard and black pepper.

2. Assemble: Spread a thin layer of mustard on each slice, then add on your avocado. Top with red onion, and finally add on two slices of cheese on each side.

3. Cook: Place on a baking sheet, and let cook until the cheese has melted, around 5 minutes. Top with a crack of fresh pepper, and enjoy!

Our corporate chef

6 Nov

Screen Shot 2013-11-01 at 11.19.09 AMDid you know that our kitchen team cooks over 2,200 meals per day?

All of those meals take someone who oversees and directs the entire process, with acute attention to detail and the ability to multitask, problem solve, and manage a team.

We wanted to provide you with a glimpse of what it’s like inside our commissary kitchen, so we interviewed our Corporate Chef, Allen Stickell to learn more.

We hope you enjoy our conversation!

BB: What inspired you to become a chef?

Allen: “I became a Chef because I obviously had a natural love of food and respect for ingredients, but I really like that it gives me instant feedback. I love that on day to day basis I know if my work and projects are good or bad.”

BB: Where did you learn how to become a chef?

Allen: “I did a formal apprenticeship through the American Culinary Federation. I not only went to culinary school, but I also had to complete 6,000 hours under a Certified Chef. I also traveled and worked in some of the best kitchens in the country like Charlie Trotter’s restaurant in Chicago under Chef and owner Charlie Trotter, and Citronelle in Washington D.C. under Chef Michel Richard.”

chicken-dumplings-rs-1141202-lBB: Can you provide us with a glimpse of how our commissary kitchen runs?

Allen: “In our commissary kitchen we have 7 full time staff members, each with different skills but all equally important. Son Pham is our Sous Chef, who oversees the kitchen in my absence, he is the second in command. One of the newest member to our team is Allison Chung who is our Pastry Chef. She bakes our desserts, muffins and pizza dough, along with anything else that requires her unique skill set. Abbi is our Lead Cook and makes all the entrees, while Richard prepares all our vegetables and composed salads, G-Berry prepares our crudités and dips, and Miguel prepares all of our cold bar items. Last but not least, Gilberto is our dishwasher who cleans up the whole operation.”

BB: Why do you like working for Butter Beans? 

Allen: “I love what Butter Beans stands for. I think it is important to have a sense of where your food is coming from. I also think it is extremely important to make healthy choices when planning meals, and I feel like we are helping young people with that education. We are changing lives!”

BB: What is your favorite Butter Beans lunch to eat, and what is your favorite Butter Beans lunch to create?

Allen: “I love to eat our chicken and dumplings, and I love to create soups, along with creating new and healthy ways to cook classics that kids love.”

BB: What motivates you to do your best everyday?

Allen: “What motivates me is that I actually go to work feeling that I’m making a difference in the world around me. It makes me proud.”

Thanks Allen for all of your hard work and dedication, and for creating delicious dishes for our students!

Photo courtesy of

Our pastry chef

30 Oct

2012-10-22 09.21.12We sat down with our Pastry Chef, Allison Chung who bakes our delicious Friday desserts every week, along with other goodies like our delectable muffins and pizza dough, that we serve to our students.

Here is our short, but *sweet* interview with Allison, we hope you enjoy!

BB: What inspired you to become a pastry chef?

Allison: “I knew I wanted to be a baker ever since I was little, when I set my sights on an easy bake oven.  Then seeing all of these pastry chefs create such delectable and aesthetically pleasing works of art reaffirmed my decision to pursue a career in pastry.”

BB: Where did you learn how to bake?

Allison: “I learned to bake professionally at the French Culinary Institute.  From there I launched my career at Kyotofu where I learned a lot about gluten-free products.”

BB: How did you learn to bake for such large volumes?

Allison: “I started off as a pastry cook at the restaurant and moved onto becoming the sous chef for the large production of pastries for Whole Foods. Baking large amounts of muffins, brownies, cookies, and desserts at Kyotofu has also prepared me for baking the large volume at Butter Beans.”

BB: Why do you like working for Butter Beans?

Allison: “Working at Butter Beans has been a great experience.  Everyone has one goal in mind, and that is to create healthy and tasty meals for growing children.”

BB: What do you think about us serving dessert to the students once per week, and serving them fruit for dessert for the rest of the week? 

Allison: “I think its great to eat healthy and have fruit four days a week and be given a special treat on Friday.  It gives the children something to look forward to.”

BB: What makes our desserts stand out?

Allison: “All of the ingredients I use are natural, and do not contain any preservatives.”

BB: What motivates you to do your best everyday?

Allison: “Not everybody gets to go to work and create products that people get to enjoy, and that is what motivates me.”

Thanks Allison for creating homemade, delicious desserts for our students!