First Lady of Virginia cooks, dines with local kids at VIMS

  • Seafood Cooking Demo
    Seafood Cooking Demo   Virginia's First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe and Virginia Executive Mansion Chef Ed Gross teach local second-graders how to make blue crab and cabbage coleslaw using locally-grown ingredients.   Photo by Erin Fryer
  • Blue Crab Intro
    Blue Crab Intro   VIMS scientist Dr. Kirk Havens explains the importance of blue crabs in Chesapeake Bay to local second-grade students during {em} A Healthy Bay for Healthy Kids{/em}.   Photo by Erin Fryer
  • VIMS welcomes First Lady
    VIMS welcomes First Lady   Kenlee Washington of Yorktown Elementary welcomes First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe to VIMS for {em}A Healthy Bay for Healthy Kids{/em}.   Photo by Erin Fryer
  • Virginia Grown
    Virginia Grown   Chef Ed Gross brought fresh, Virginia-grown ingredients for the blue crab and cabbage coleslaw.   Photo by Erin Fryer
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Second-graders learn how a healthy Bay supports healthy kids

Eight second-grade students from local elementary schools visited the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) last week to learn about the link between a healthy Chesapeake Bay and the seafood they eat with Virginia’s First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe and Virginia Executive Mansion Chef Ed Gross.

Created by VIMS scientist Dr. Kirk Havens, the event—A Healthy Bay for Healthy Kids—allows young students the opportunity to learn the importance of keeping the Bay healthy in order to have fresh, sustainably harvested Virginia seafood for the table, and how that contributes to a healthy diet. The hands-on event also enables the students to prepare and enjoy a tasty seafood lunch with the First Lady and their parents.Each student received their own VIMS apron and personalized chef's hat for A Healthy Bay for Healthy Kids.

This year’s dish featured a Virginia blue crab and cabbage coleslaw wrapped in lettuce. Havens—Director of the Coastal Watershed Program at VIMS—and fellow VIMS scientists David Stanhope and Kory Angstadt, kicked off the event with an overview of blue crabs and their importance to Virginia’s seafood industry. The trio even had some live crabs for the students to see up-close, and the students were particularly fascinated with one that happened to be molting during the event.

The second graders—Finley Rogers and Carmine McDaniel of Richneck Elementary in Newport News, Kenlee Washington and Pete F. of Yorktown Elementary in Yorktown, Addyson Griffiths and Zelda Luck of Achilles Elementary in Gloucester, and Peyton Marderosian and Lexi Stanhope of Abingdon Elementary in Gloucester—admit they aren’t seasoned chefs, but a few said they enjoy whipping up dishes such as panini and pepper stew. While their culinary skills have yet to reach their full potential, all of the students were eager to lend a helping hand when it came time to start cooking under the guidance of Chef Gross.

The students—each wearing their own personalized chef’s hat and apron—got to know McAuliffe a little better while Gross assembled the ingredients for the dish. As Chair of the Commonwealth Council on Bridging the Nutritional Divide, the First Lady talked to the students about the number of young children in Virginia who suffer from hunger and don’t know where their next meal is coming from, and why healthy eating is such a passion of hers.First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe decorated a chef's hat for Virginia Executive Mansion Chef Ed Gross.

As Gross began the demonstration, McAuliffe continued to explain the importance of the Bay not only to our health, but also to Virginia’s history and economy. Kim Huskey, Executive Director of the Virginia Seafood Council, was also on-hand to explain the art of picking a crab to get the delicious meat Chef Gross had displayed in front of them.

Gross showed the students each ingredient for the blue crab and cabbage coleslaw—with most acquired locally including Honeycrisp apples, honey, and bell peppers . When he asked the kids what’s so special about crabmeat, several responded with, “It’s healthy!”

McAuliffe went on to explain some of the elements of crabmeat that make it so healthy, like Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin B12. While the students weren’t terribly enthusiastic about some of the other healthy ingredients, like the lettuce and cabbage, they perked right up when Gross taught them how to concoct the yogurt and honey dressing.

Participants enjoyed helping Chef Gross prepare the blue crab and cabbage cole slaw.McAuliffe and Gross explained some of the benefits of buying Virginia-grown ingredients, and told the students about the garden Gross manages at the Governor’s mansion. After taking turns mixing the ingredients and wrapping the crab coleslaw in lettuce wraps, all of the students were eager to try their delicious, fresh, and healthy creation.

VIMS Director of Outreach Susan Maples-Luellen organized the event and says each student received a copy of the blue crab coleslaw recipe in addition to a VIMS apron and their decorative chef hats. First Lady McAuliffe also left with a VIMS apron decorated with the names of each student participant.

“We’re happy the First Lady and Chef Gross could join us for this fun and educational event,” says Maples-Luellen. “We hope the students and their parents enjoyed learning more about the importance of sustainable seafood in their communities.”

Maples-Luellen says the blue crab and cabbage coleslaw recipe, along with a short video from the event, will be available on the VIMS website so when the students tell their classmates about their day at VIMS, they too can find the recipe and everyone can have the opportunity to enjoy Chef Gross’ delicious crab dish.

This event marks the fourth Healthy Bay for Healthy Kids at VIMS. The last event was held in 2012 with former First Lady Maureen McDonnell. The second event was attended by First Lady Anne Holton, and the inaugural event with First Lady Lisa Collis.