Noma Chef Hopes to Fix School Lunches in the US

By Mike Pomranz |
NOMA CHEF TRYING TO MAKE SCHOOL LUNCH FWX

Photo Composite: © Peter Dazeley / Getty Images / Ditte Isager

After spending three years as the chef de cuisine for one of the world’s best-respected restaurants, Noma’s Daniel Giusti has decided to take on an even bigger challenge: Returning to Washington, DC and fixing school cafeterias.

If, as the Washington Post points out, the idea of switching from a restaurant where diners expect to pay $400 per person to a program where the federal government offers up reimbursements of just $3.07 per lunch seems strange, Giusti certainly sounds like he’s given his decision some levelheaded thought.

“This is a huge undertaking and a risky undertaking, but for me this is worth it,” he told the Post. Earlier, he discussed his lack of interest in staying in the restaurant game, stating, “There are a lot of great chefs out there and a lot of great restaurants, and coming back to the United States, I don’t think I’m going to add a lot to the scene.”

The bigger question: How does a world-class chef go about fixing terrible cafeteria food? Giusti has launched a new company called Brigaid that hopes to reshape the attitudes in schools around food from the ground up. He wants to improve old kitchens or build new ones and then fill them with fulltime professional chefs who will focus on preparing fresh food. One of the often unappreciated problems with school food is that school buildings lack both a staff preparing food from fresh ingredients and the kitchens needed to do that. Giusti hopes to have a pilot program to combat those duel issues as soon as fall of 2016, though just where that will happen is still undetermined.

Another big question, how do you pay for all those upgrades? Giusti say he has investors. Though if the food is as good as it was at his previous gigs, maybe he can supplement his expenses by inviting kids’ parents to come in and eat school lunches for $50 a plate.

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