An advocate for healthy food education, Isabel teaches children from an early age
to identify and appreciate fresh food vs industrial processed foods.
Photo Courtesy of Isabel Gunther
Chef and mom Isabel Gunther developed a passion for food and cooking from her own mother, a Cordon Bleu trained chef and food anthropologist. Isabel has lived and traveled all over the world, observing how other cultures introduce their children to food and help them develop healthy eating habits. Armed with this knowledge and faced with the challenge of feeding her own son, Isabel started Little Green Gourmets. Five days a week, Isabel and her team deliver thousands of healthy hot meals, prepared from fresh local and organic ingredients, to NYC schools.
Welcome Isabel to Chefs for Impact!
By Isabel Gunther as told to Chefs for Impact
Interviewed by Olivia Chessé
How did you become a Chef?
“I grew up in a farming town in Washington county in a food intensive family, surrounded by gardens and drinking raw milk! My parents were Victorian farmers, my mom went to culinary school and was running a kitchen; however, she always discouraged me from being a chef!
I’ve always loved to cook and when my son was born, I got very interested in children's food education. It was interesting to see him learning through food and experimenting with it. After doing some research, I realized that most people around me were very stressed out about how you should feed your children. In a city like New York, people work a lot and don’t have the time to cook. I started doing home deliveries for a year, then schools asked us to manage their school lunches.”
What is the mission of Little Green Gourmets?
“Our mission is to grow smart eaters. I believe you do have to learn to really identify and appreciate what healthy food is because taste buds get trained. If you have only been exposed to processed foods, you can’t recognize healthy foods. It’s easy to talk about all this, but the reality is you must practice. It’s a matter of education.”
What are the feedbacks you get from the schools and the parents?
“Overall, we receive positive feedback, but you always have reluctant families who think that their children won’t eat the food we make. I think there is a societal issue on the present ideas of what kids should be eating. Look at every restaurant menu and you’ll always find chicken nuggets, french fries, and eventually some fresh fruits, but not a single vegetable. We do have a better outcome when kids come from a household which encourages vegetables of course. The schools who want the kids to have an interactive relationship with the food are a good fit, but it takes effort on the part of the school, and not every school wants to make the effort. Very often, the parents who are working and have a stressful and demanding job will feed their children chicken nuggets for dinner and will rely on the healthy lunch they have at school.”
Have you noticed a change in consumption habits since you started LGG?
“Americans are slow to the game with food. In this country, food is not a priority. When I was a kid, we were eating fresh produce but amongst our community we were the ‘weird ones’. I feel now there is a shift. There is more awareness, people go to the farmers market, and now have a better appreciation of ingredients.”
Learn more: https://www.littlegreengourmets.com/