How much does a “free” school lunch cost?
In the last few years, First Lady Michelle Obama has worked with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to make school lunches healthier. In 2011, Neal McCluskey argued that, though well-intentioned, the changes would result in more wasted food, higher costs, and major implementation challenges. The General Accounting Office has now issued a report that confirms these concerns:
According to the GAO report, local and state authorities told researchers the new standards have resulted in more waste, higher food costs, challenges with menu planning and difficulties in sourcing products that meet the federal portion and calorie requirements.
When such decisions are made at the local level, schools can solicit and respond to feedback from parents and students. However, when the proverbial faceless bureaucrat in some distant Washington office decides, the rules tend to be uniform and inflexible, leading to all sorts of unintended consequences:
The federal government’s changes to school lunch menus have been disastrous, causing problems for cafeterias trying to comply with the rules and leaving the menu so expensive or unpalatable that more than 1 million students have stopped buying lunch, according to a government audit…
One school district told federal investigators that it had to add unhealthy pudding and potato chips to its menu to meet the government’s minimum calorie requirements. Other school districts removed peanut butter and jelly sandwiches from their elementary school menus.
Five of the eight school districts surveyed by the Government Accountability Office, the official watchdog for Congress, said they believed students were going hungry because of smaller entree portions demanded by the rules.
In other words, the so-called “Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act” actually resulted in some kids being served less healthy food while other kids went hungry.
Two-thirds of states reported on the GAO survey that implementation in 2012-13 was a “very great challenge” or an “extreme challenge.” The report noted that much of the difficulty was related to the sheer volume of regulations. In just 18 months, the USDA issued 1,800 pages of “guidance” for following the new rules. Moreover, the “guidance” was “provided too late in the 2012-2013 school year to be helpful” because schools “had already planned menus and trained food service staff” on what they thought the new rules required. However, some guidance memos “either substantively changed or contradicted aspects of previously issued memos.” When state officials contacted the USDA’s regional offices for guidance on understanding the “guidance,” the USDA staff were “sometimes unable to answer state questions on the guidance.”
Let’s hope this serves as a cautionary tale for those who want the federal government to play a larger role in education policy in general.
Families who buy groceries in bulk can save money, but it helps to have a plan before shopping.
Costco — which opened in Lexington in October — offers an online meal planning service, eMeals, that helps busy cooks prepare family dinners. You can receive 14 Costco-focused menus to your smart phone or computer inbox every two weeks. It’s designed to take advantage of Costco promotions and volume packaging. The two-week plan provides a grocery list that consists of specific items shoppers will need for their meals for 14 days, and it’s organized by aisles for easy shopping. Go to Emeals.com to find the various plans and other stores that offer the service. A three-month subscription is $30.
April is National Grilled Cheese Month, and the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board is having a grilled cheese recipe showdown and offering a $10,000 grand prize.
The contest runs April 1 through May 12. To enter, contestants must submit an original grilled cheese recipe and photo featuring Wisconsin cheese. GrilledCheeseAcademy.com will launch on April 1 with contest rules.
Until then, you can practice making a prize-winning recipe. Here are some inspirations from one of the judges, food blogger McKenzie Smith of Grilled Cheese Social: Ricotta and Parmesan; turkey and provolone; Cheddar cheese, tomato jam, bacon and fried egg on brioche; pineapple-cilantro salsa, Fontina cheese and chorizo; and banana and mascarpone cheese on French toast brioche.
New fruit and veggie bars
The Edy’s Outshine fruit bars brand is adding some vegetables to its line of frozen fruit bars.
Fruit and Veggie bars contain at least 25 percent vegetables from purees and juices. Flavors are: Blueberry medley, which contains puree or juice from beets, blueberries, pears, apples, and sweet potatoes; tangerine carrot contains puree or juice from apples, carrots, pears, tangerines, and pumpkins; apple and greens is made from pumpkins, mangoes, pineapples, apples, bananas and kiwis, and kale and spinach; peach mango medley contains puree or juice from peaches, pears, sweet potatoes, carrots, mangoes and butternut squash; strawberry rhubarb is made with puree or juice from pears, apples, strawberries, pumpkins, rhubarb, cranberries, carrots, and beets.
Cost is $4.39 for a box of six 2.5-ounce bars. Go to Outshinesnacks.com.
All you need is a little bottle of green food color to jazz up your St. Patrick’s Day menu.
In this recipe, contrasting layers of green, white, and chocolate brown are flavored with peppermint extract.
Green with envy cheesecake bars
11/2 cups chocolate wafer cookie crumbs (about 30 cookies)
1⁄3 cup butter, melted
3 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
1/2 teaspoon green food color
2 ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate, melted
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix cookie crumbs and butter. Press firmly onto bottom of foil-lined 9-inch square baking pan. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add sour cream and peppermint extract; mix well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating on low speed after each addition just until blended. Pour 1/2 of the batter over crust. Tint remaining batter green with food color. Pour over batter in pan. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool completely on wire rack.
Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight. Lift out of pan onto cutting board. Cut into bars. Drizzle bars with melted chocolate. Store leftover bars in refrigerator. Makes 24 servings.
Source: McCormick Company
Sharon Thompson: (859) 231-3321. Twitter: @FlavorsofKY. Blog:flavorsofkentucky.bloginky.com
Work is underway to develop a new set of U.S. Dietary Guidelines for 2015, and the American Meat Institute (AMI) has submitted comments asking the advisory committee to limit its recommendations to nutrition and health, and not delve into the issue of sustainability. In its recent request for public comments, the committee specifically asked for input on “food systems sustainability,” as well as on nutritional and health issues.
In its comments, AMI told the committee that sustainability is outside the scope of the committee’s charge and that there is insufficient expertise on the committee and insufficient data in the published literature to make science-based decisions in this area. “The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee is comprised of experts in nutrition and epidemiology. To address the variety of issues attendant to sustainability is outside the Committee’s expertise and could dilute the importance of the Committee’s recommendations. Sustainability is a complex issue that is being addressed by various experts in a number of other forums. Until those expert panels have drawn more concrete conclusions it would be premature for the Committee to incorporate such considerations into its dietary guidance recommendations.”
Since 1980, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), in cooperation with USDA, has issued Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The guidelines potentially influence consumer food choices, and have significant impact in guiding purchases and menu planning for schools and other public institutions. HHS and USDA update the guidelines every five years based on recommendations from a Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee.
In addition to its objection to the committee’s apparent interest in food-system sustainability, AMI’s comments addressed these issues:
- In addition to high quality protein, meat and poultry are important and rich sources of micronutrients such as iron, zinc, selenium, and Vitamins B12, B6, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and potassium.
- Up to 16 percent of U.S. adults and more than 20 percent over 60 years old are marginally depleted in vitamin B12. Deficiency increases with age, with about six percent of those more than 70 years old being deficient in vitamin B12.
- The iron content in meat and poultry is particularly important for the 1.2 million children in America with anemia or pregnant women who are particularly at risk of anemia. The heme iron in meat is the most absorbable form of iron known.
- Per serving, meat, poultry, and fish provide more protein than dairy, eggs, legumes, or cereals, vegetables or nuts. That protein is critical for developing, maintaining, and repairing strong muscles and it is vital for reducing the muscle loss that often occurs with aging.
Incidence of Listeria monocytogenes in retail meat declined 81 percent between 2000 and 2011.
- Escherichia coli O157:H7 in raw ground beef declined 85 percent between 2000 and 2013.
- Salmonella in young chickens declined by 79 percent from the original performance standard and a 43 percent reduction from the new standard in 2012.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data have shown a corresponding decline in foodborne illness historically associated with meat and poultry products, AMI said.
- Sodium is essential for human health and development, particularly in regulating the body’s electrolyte balance, preventing dehydration, and maintaining many of the body’s cellular functions. Salt or sodium chloride also plays a critical role in the production of meat products – whether used by large commercial processors, local butchers, or even within the consumer’s home – to improve the flavor, texture, and safety of those products.
Nevertheless, food companies are working to reduce the sodium content in foods such as processed meats. In a recent study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers analyzed sodium levels in 480 packaged and restaurant foods from 2005 to 2011. While the researchers did not find dramatic across-the-board reductions in sodium, they did note that some of the most significant reductions occurred in meat products, including pork (-27 percent) and sliced deli turkey breast (-21 percent).
AMI’s complete comments are available on the meatami.org website.
The county hosted its 24th annual food show at Patriot High School, giving families a chance to taste — and give feedback on — 35 potential menu items for the 2014-15 school year. If school had been closed again Wednesday, Suthers said, they wouldn’t have been able to defrost and prepare all of the food they needed in time for the food show.
The two-hour delay Wednesday gave Suthers’s crew plenty of time to get ready for their dinner guests, who lined up 20 or more deep at some of the event’s nine tasting stations to sample foods including pizza and chocolate-covered banana bites.
“What a fun event,” said Christina Stephens, whose two children attend Gravely Elementary School. They have been coming to the food show since they moved to the county three years ago.
Tasting items included new chicken breast patties with whole-grain breading, to keep the county in compliance with regulations that stipulate that all grains offered in school meals must be whole-grain rich by July. There were pizza options, breakfast foods and a “super food” salad made with fresh kale.
That salad was a favorite of Stephens. Her daughter, Lily, 10, was a fan of the egg-and-cheese breakfast sandwich. Lily’s brother, Colter, 9, came to the show last year for the pizza, but this year he was trying everything, his mom said.
“Even the zucchini,” she said. “He liked it. I’m shocked.”
Suthers and her staff will tally the responses and begin incorporating some of the most popular items in next year’s menus.
“The menu-planning process is getting so complex we’ve got to start earlier and earlier every year,” Suthers said. “As soon as we get our results tabulated, we’ll start drafting sample menus. There might be some items that we don’t show tonight, that we haven’t seen yet. . . . We’ll also look at what happens tonight. People might say something that causes us to tweak a recipe or make it different.”
Michelle Taylor, whose children attend Stonewall Middle School and Bennett Elementary, has been coming to the food show for four years because she enjoys the opportunity to see what might be on the menu for her children next year.
Her daughter, Alina, 10, said she came for the free food. But son Jonathan, 13, said he likes having a say in what’s for lunch. He tried the shredded pork roast and gave it a thumbs up on his ballot.
One station offered Asian foods: Mongolian beef and two kinds of chicken lo mein, with a frozen strawberry lemon juice chaser. Another featured two types of pork barbecue, a frittata and roasted veggie sticks.
Suthers said she is looking for ways to expand the fresh fruits and vegetables offered. In addition to the kale salad and zucchini, there were glazed Brussels sprouts and a mixture of roasted root vegetables that included turnips.
“We are kind of going out on a limb on some of the vegetables,” said Katrine Rose, the county school system’s administrative coordinator for nutrition. “They’re not necessarily mainstream vegetables, so we’re kind of putting out feelers to see how kids like things like roasted vegetables.”
LEOMINSTER — Theresa Hernandez recently decided she wanted to change her diet to get the most out of the CrossFit classes she had been attending for over a year.
Hernandez, of Leominster, had considered herself to be a healthy eater, but felt she was not reaching her full potential. Then she was introduced to Whole 30, a diet designed to “cleanse” the body.
“It’s the easiest way to start eating healthy because you cut everything out. Other diets, they let you eat some things,” said Hernandez.
Hernandez recently completed her first full month of following the Whole 30 and has started a second. She lost 10 pounds her first month, and said she feels cutting out so many different types of food groups could help people who want to diet but don’t know where to start.
Hernandez heard about the diet through Tiffany Normandin and her husband Nick, the two coaches at the Leominster CrossFit gym she attends with fellow Leominster resident and friend Natasha Clark.
CrossFit is a strength and conditioning program that aims to improve muscular strength, cardio-respiratory endurance and flexibility.
Normandin said the program was developed in 2009 by sports nutritionists Dallas and Melissa Hartwig. They created the program as a way for people to understand their relationship with food and the impact food has on their bodies, she said.
The rules for Whole 30 are simple. For 30 days, remove the following food groups and foods: dairy, grains, sugar, legumes and alcohol. Instead, one should focus on filling mealtime plates with whole foods, including lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, healthy fats and nuts.
By doing this, you’re giving your body a chance to “reset” itself and recover from whatever effects those off-limits food may have had on your body.
“(The Normandins) did the Whole 30 the month before Christmas. We (Hernandez and Clark) saw the transformation. They were posting all about it on Facebook and showing recipes,” Hernandez said. “(Tiffany) was already in great shape, and you could tell it really changed her. Especially being a female, seeing another female doing well, you want to get involved.”
There is a Whole 30 Facebook group where people can share ideas and recipes and support each other.
“We were each other’s support system. It’s definitely hard, especially the first week,” Hernandez said. “It does get easier. The start of the second week, it becomes normal. The first time we did it, the first week felt like you were in detox. You get headaches. By the time you’re done, you feel good.”
Nicole Ferguson, a registered dietitian for Sodexo Food Services at HealthAlliance Hospital in Leominster, doubts the diet can be sustained.
“In my experience with working with fad diets, they end and you’re still left not knowing what to do,” she said. “We teach lifestyle changes in hopes people will have continued weight loss success.”
She would not recommend such a diet to her clients, choosing instead to develop healthy meal plans that include the foods they enjoy.
“I personally don’t like to recommend anything that will cut out a major food group,” she said. “I let my patients know I recognize what it’s like to try and eat healthy. It doesn’t necessarily mean it’s eating everything low in calories. Desserts are a part of life.”
She said developing a food plan that people can stick to is imperative to success. This mean’s tailoring plans to individuals’ specific needs.
“Fad diets don’t focus on individual people, so I think that’s why they aren’t sustainable,” she said. “We focus on what people like to eat, which is important.”
Normandin said people are not expected to follow the program for the rest of their lives.
“Think of it as a ‘cleanse,’ where you are experimenting on your own body to see if removing those food groups helps improve in the areas of sleep, joint inflammation, digestion and energy levels,” she said. “At the end of 30 days, you will slowly add one food group back in to your diet at a time to see if any of those symptoms return.”
By doing this, she said, people can get an accurate understanding of whether their bodies have been having adverse reactions to certain good groups.
As a result of her cleanses, Normandin said she has eliminated sugar from her diet and she is sleeping and feeling better than ever. She and her husband have been able to spend quality time together cooking and prepping meals weekly, and they’ve even saved money by not dining out nearly as much.
She said they’ve also been able to eliminate coffee from their diets and only drink water. She, like Hernandez, lost 10 pounds in her first 30 days without limiting the quantity of food she ate or having to weigh or measuring her food, but just by eating foods in their natural state.
“Since completing my first Whole 30 program back in December, I have made this style of eating the foundation to my diet,” she said. “My experience with the Whole 30 was extremely positive. It came at a perfect time in my life, and I don’t have enough great things to say about all the awesome changes I’ve seen in myself and my husband.”
Exercise should be a key component of any healthy diet, Ferguson said.
“Whether it be shoveling the snow or setting the radio for 30 minutes and dancing around your house until you get your heart up, it’s whatever works for you,” she said.
Normandin has started her own blog, pushpulleat.com, where she shares recipes and clean-eating tips and tricks.
Follow Katina Caraganis on Tout and Twitter @kcaraganis.
By Lory | March 7, 2014 | No comment yet
I’ve mentioned before how much I love using my iPad for cooking and baking. I save recipes from blogs to Evernote Food. I have a board on Pinterest with yummy treats. I have a dozen different recipe apps right on my iPad. Now, a new one will be added to the mix. SideChef is a step-by-step cooking app that makes it easy for amateurs to feel like pros in the kitchen.
SideChef utilizes a community base of veteran chefs to offer an unlimited number of recipes from healthy, gluten-free main dishes to sweet treats for desert. It is a social networking app for recipes. You can follow your favorite chefs and even become somewhat of a celebrity yourself.
Users can upload recipes for others to try out as well. The more recipes you have, the more notoriety you will receive. Before you know it, you may end up on the Featured Chefs page.
“At SideChef we believe cooking can be fun for everyone,” said Kevin Yu, founder and CEO for SideChef. “Whether it is your first time cooking, you are looking to explore new recipes, or if you have desires to inspire others with your own culinary creations, SideChef provides the platform to cook and share with confidence.”
The app includes the following features:
Step-by-Step Recipes: Hundreds of recipes from well-known food bloggers and chefs with audio and visual instructions as well as voice-command technology, making it easy to navigate the steps without having to touch the screen.
Cooking Timers Notifications: Built-in automatic timers ensure nothing is ever left to burn or boil over – SideChef keeps track of what’s on the stove so you can relax.
Recipe Building Tool: Sharing personal recipes is simple with the built-in upload tool, which also allows chefs to add their own step-by-step photography.
Diverse Cuisine Options- Recipe search tool makes it easy and fun to discover new regional eats or cater to special diets including gluten-free, vegan, kosher and more.
Easy Menu Planning for 2 or 10: Recipes dynamically change to increase or decrease ingredient amounts and cooking instructions based on the number of servings you wish to prepare, taking the guess work out of adjusting recipes for a crowd.
Smart, Sharable Grocery Lists: Grocery list feature gives you the option to cross off items that you already have in the pantry and makes it easy to print or share via email.
Robust International Community: Active community of home cooks, professional chefs and food lovers eager to explore new foods and try new things. Follow your favorite chefs, ask them questions, and grow your own fan base to reach “celebrity chef” status.
Gain Recognition and Shoot for the Stars: Earn tokens while cooking to gain recognition and credibility among community members. Try advanced techniques and master new cuisines to collect badges, rewards and bragging rights.
You will be able to view recipes as step-by-step instructions so that, if you are new in the kitchen, a complex recipe won’t be as intimidating.
My favorite feature is the hands-free voice recognition navigation. When you tap the microphone icon in the upper right corner of the screen, you can say “next” or “back” to switch between steps. No more getting oil, flour, or chocolate all over your beautiful iPad.
SideChef is free to download and all recipes are free. Users earn tokens for uploading and making recipes and spend tokens to add them to their cookbook. Download it in the App Store today.
I know what you’re thinking… menu boards are for the extremely organized and people with ample time on their hands. The truth is, I’m NOT very organized and time is usually not on my side. I do my best, but organization can easily get away from this working mom.
Growing up, my mom always kept a weekly menu in a journal in the kitchen, planning meals for the week on Sundays. I never really appreciated this until I had my own family and was at a complete loss for meal planning. She always told me to make lists and plan my menu, but as many things do, this went in one ear and out the other. Until one day, it finally clicked that she was onto something — and it only took 36 years!
I started my menu board two years ago when I was frustrated at the end of the day and had no idea what to make for dinner. Here I was, the founder of an organic food company, and I was making eggs and toast or grilled cheese again (granted, they were pretty gourmet grilled cheeses!)
It’s now one of my favorite additions to the kitchen, even adding a little bistro flair to the decor! The best part of the planned menu is getting the kids involved. They love to contribute and be a part of the decision-making process.
Every Sunday, I pull out one cookbook and have them go through it to choose things that sound good to them. They each get to pick one night, and we do a kids’ choice bonus night (which usually ends up being pizza). They even like to help cook on their chosen nights, which allows us quality time together.
Having a well-stocked pantry and fridge/freezer also helps. I go through both, see what is available and pull together the rest of the week. I usually work with what I have (plus a few extras), try to be creative and come up with healthy and quick meals I know my kids will like, or at least try.
Once the board is up, I am accountable to it and the kids look forward to the meals they love.
I picked up my chalkboard and shelf at IKEA for $20 and it has quickly become a conversation piece among my guests!
Here are a few of my favorites.
I want to know! What are your tips for weekly menu planning?
The subject of taste and flavors came up in conversation today, spurred on by a blog post on NPR’s The Salt sent to me by a colleague. To summarize: The IBM supercomputer Watson, which was a recent Jeopardy winner, is now helping chefs with flavor combinations and new tastes in a food truck venture.
Yes, a computer is taking my job, or actually the jobs of the hierarchy of the kitchen. What used to be the domain of the chefs and sous chefs – menu planning – can now be done on a much grander scale by the computer overlords, fulfilling Sarah Connor’s prophecy from The Terminator that Skynet would take over the (my) world.
Back in the late ’90s and early ’00s, the Japanese were working feverishly on a mechanical method for cooking and serving the food in a restaurant kitchen. Assuming the worst, we have now completely automated my life’s work, from ordering food through the prep and cooking process involving the ordering and delivery process, resulting in a meal possibly untouched by human hands.
Am I worried? No. Am I amazed? Again, not so much. To paraphrase Braveheart: They can take away my labor hours, but they can never take my palate.
You see, we each taste in our own way and flavors are to some extent subjective. While most of us taste five “flavors” on our palate – sweet, sour, salty, bitter and hot – some taste six, the sixth being umami which is a vague savory flavor like roasted chicken or mushrooms.
Our palates develop at different rates and to different levels magnified a billion times over. Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, the author of The Physiology of Taste, was famous for saying, “Tell me what you eat, and I’ll tell you what you are.” And those words written almost 200 years ago give me the comfort against the encroachment of technology.
You must understand that no matter the broad spectrum of knowledge that can or ever will exist which can be fed into a computer and processed into a thousand different flavor combinations, nothing will ever replace the human sense of taste, only significantly enhance its possibilities.
So, now I am faced with an almost unlimited supply of ideas for tonight’s specials or next season’s menu, and still I’m annoyed.
Part of the magic of that twilight between lunch service and the onslaught of dinner, that time when only you and a few cooks work in an afternoon vacuum, is the act of creation. We work so much with our hands and our bodies, stretching and lifting, dancing among the flames, balancing the adrenalin of service, that our minds and our creative spark is sometimes dimmed.
These brief moments of peace are moments in which we do the work of Watson the computer by taking what’s on hand, divining its flavors and creating the fish special for that night. That is the reward for hours of heat, vulgarity and sometimes brutish work. It would truly be a tragedy if we sat back and allowed a unique experience to be reduced to mix and match.
It may seem Neanderthal of me to take this position, and I am usually much more open to the benefits of advancing our culinary technology. But, I was struck by the ease with which we welcomed this incursion into an inner sanctum into which we rarely even admit our own young cooks.
We, as chefs, can be an irascible lot, possessive of our time and talent. We are still one of the few careers still kind to the tradition of paying one’s dues and, sometimes, we are downright hostile to young upstarts. I confess that, at times, I watch with disdain as a young celebrity chef enjoys their 15 minutes of fame, mindful that without a good foundation that’s all they may get. I remind my students that this career they’ve chosen is a marathon that constantly challenges you to continue, while it teaches hard lessons you must learn. How in the world can all that be reduced to a byte, or bite, of information.
The again, this breakthrough represents really the only other way that our industry can evolve. We have the niche of molecular gastronomy, practiced by some of the best chefs in the world but out of the reach of the rest. Unless we discover an entirely new foodstuff, we are confined somewhat to reintroducing the past.
The element of unfathomable knowledge is new and even, to me, exciting. Where once we had to learn at the feet of the master, we can now start somewhere up near the kneecaps.
We still have to respect the foundations, but with technology literally in our grasp we can access so much more than we used to have at our disposal. Will it ever replace books and old notes or yellowing pages from a journal? For me, the answer is no.
For the next generation, I wish for one foot in the past and another in the future. You have the possibility of both worlds to choose from, but the act of creation must end with your hand on the chef’s knife and your body hunched over the stove. It should ever be thus if there is passion still left in our craft.
John Foster is an executive chef who heads the culinary program at Sullivan University’s Lexington campus. A New York native, Chef Foster has been active in the Lexington culinary scene for more than 20 years. The French Culinary Institute-trained chef has been an executive chef, including at the popular Dudley’s Restaurant, and a restaurant owner.
Click here to read more from Chef John Foster.
A restaurant which became a favourite for foodies has served its final diners.
Grant Young – former owner and head chef at Restaurant 65 in the heart of Hemel Hempstead’s Old Town – completed his last evening service to a full house on Saturday night before handing over the keys on Monday.
After years of working seven days a week, 16 hours a day, Grant and wife Gina decided that it was time for a change – but they leave behind a loyal customer base who could not hide their disappointment at the news.
Grant, 42, said: “We’ve done well and we’ve had a lot of support over the years. It’s nice to know we had a lot of happy customers. We’ve had a good run of it.”
The charming 17th century building – at number 65 on the historic High Street – was featured in both the Michelin Guide and the Good Food Guide several times, and offered seating for 36 diners with a menu of good, British food with a contemporary twist.
Grant said: “I just want to say a massive thank you to all of our customers, because they made the restaurant.
“I could have been cooking up meals in the kitchen all day, but there would have been no point if there was no one to eat them.”
However, customers will be glad to hear that they haven’t seen the last of Grant, who hopes to move into the private dining business six months or so from now, while Gina will be concentrating on her beauty therapy business.
Grant said: “My cooking’s not stopping – it’s just stopping here. In fact, my customers were the ones who gave me the idea to branch out and do something different.”
His new venture will involve menu planning with his customers, buying all the top quality ingredients and prepping them all so that his customers can take it home, create a culinary masterpiece for friends in their own kitchen and take all the credit.
He said: “It’s a simple idea – it saves someone hassle of making a list, going out shopping and preparing it all.
“This way, you can relax and have a glass of wine with your friends.”
Saving money on groceries and making great, healthy food don’t have to be mutually exclusive. You just need to play your meals. Last week we asked you for the best tools for the job , then looked at the five best meal planning apps . Now we’re back to feature the community favorite.
Cook Smarts was your top pick, with over 38% of the votes cast. Its weekly meal plans, smart grocery shopping lists, multiple diet and ingredient preferences, great recipes, and cooking tips and tricks earned it the top spot, even over other, free options.
In second place with 33% of the vote was Plan To Eat, another mostly hands-off meal planning service that takes the hassle out of organizing a menu, building a shopping list, and more-just tell it what you’re interested in and Plan to Eat does the rest. It’s also a for-fee service. The votes dropped off from there, with Mac app and mobile app Paprika, ideal for organizing, importing, rating, and filtering your recipes into grocery lists and meal plans, coming in third place with 12% of the vote. Free app and web service Pepperplate came in fourth place with over 9% of the overall vote. Bringing up the rear was grocery list-turned-robust meal planner ZipList, with over 7% of the votes cast.
The Hive Five is based on reader nominations. As with most Hive Five posts, if your favorite was left out, it didn’t get the nominations required in the call for contenders post to make the top five. We understand it’s a bit of a popularity contest. Have a suggestion for the Hive Five? Send us an email at email@example.com!