After School Programs

Fake Meat

There has been lots of debate around the topic of fake meats. Some people swear by them, insisting that they’re the future of food and that there’s no comparison to the real thing. Then there are others who believe that anything other than meat from a living animal is gross and unnatural.

Are “Fake Meats” good or bad? Let us see the arguments so you may decide for yourself.

While I am for eating more plant-related foods, I probably will never become a full vegetarian. I love all kinds of food too much. Probably you do also. But I can’t dispute a Harvard study where vegetarians live up to 26 years longer than carnivores. (I need to find the link to the study).

Below are several links that delve further into explaining different aspects of fake meat.


Fake meat has been around since 1896, the first known plant-based meat product was called Nuttose. Kellogg created this term for the purpose of helping to stop Americans from eating so many heavy foods. What Kellogg produced was a meatless cheesy mass made out of peanuts that could be sliced, stewed, and hashed.

Oregon Chef Paul Wenner, in 1980 ground up some leftover vegetables and turned them into “gardenburger”. It was so popular that Wenner started selling his burgers out of a van. I don’t think this was accepted by Eastcoasters and the Midwest. I did try this product and it was not to my liking at all.

By the 1990s, other companies wanted in on the increasingly lucrative fake meat industry. They made products out of soy, rice, wheat, and mushrooms. Most of them looked and tasted like salty cardboard.

The meatless meat market is expected to be worth $140,000,000,000 by 2029 according to research at Barclay’s.

Proponents of fake meat claim that it is better for your body. Most experts agree because most meat alternatives have fewer calories than animal products – but they are also highly processed and contain absurd amounts of sodium and preservatives.

In the past decade, companies have been racing to make the bloodiest, meatiest product. “bleeding” faux meats, like Impossible Burger, are made of genetically modified soy proteins. A lot of people wonder if these highly processed products are actually better for people or the planet.

Is eating fake meat good for the environment? Scientists largely agree that eating fake meat is better for the environment than eating animals.

Producing a Beyond Burger, for example, uses 99% less water, 90% fewer greenhouse gasses, and 46% less energy than making a beef burger according to the university of Michigan Center for Sustainable Systems.

Still, anything that comes in a shiny package also comes with a carbon footprint, and the reality is that fake meat has always been more of a marketing gimmick than a nutritional plan.

Most experts think the best thing for your body and the planet is to eat a plant-based diet high in whole foods and low in processed foods, including fake meat.

I don’t know who still needs to hear this, but we are literally born onto a planet that grows food.

If you want to know more about the recent history of fake meat, here is a handy timeline and some context on the ancient origins of meat alternatives.



If you want to learn more about what scientists think of fake meat, check out this research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, “Can Plant-Based Meat Alternatives Be Part of a Healthy and Sustainable Diet?


If you want to know more about how your food choices impact your health and the health of the planet, there is a growing movement to create a Planetary Health Diet known as “PHD”. To join the movement check out these resources:



I have not yet mentioned this new science thing where meat cells are being replicated in a lab to create all kinds of meat, fish, and poultry. While I am interested in learning more about that kind of thing, I still don’t like the idea of my food being messed with. Science has had a huge hand in our ingredients by taking what consumers like and finding ways to promote those qualities. Honestly, as a chef who celebrates food, I would rather educate on the foods the way they were if left alone.

Red Chimichurri

If you’re looking for a new way to spice up your grilled meats, look no further than Chimichurri sauce! This classic South American sauce is perfect for adding flavor and excitement to any dish. And now, we’ve got a new twist on Chimichurri that you’re going to love: Red Chimichurri!

Chimichurri is a classic South American sauce that originated in Argentina. The sauce is typically made with parsley, oregano, garlic, olive oil, and red wine vinegar, and it’s perfect for adding flavor and excitement to any dish. And now, we’ve got a new twist on Chimichurri that you’re going to love: Red Chimichurri!

Red Chimichurri is made with the same delicious ingredients as traditional Chimichurri, but with the added bonus of tomatoes and red peppers. This vibrant sauce is perfect for grilling meats or vegetables or even using it as a dip. Trying out our delicious Red Chimichurri sauce?

Recipe Link:  Red-Chimichurri

Picky Eater Suggestions

If you have picky eaters in your family, mealtimes can be a challenge. You may feel like you’re constantly preparing separate meals or struggling to get your kids to eat anything at all. But don’t despair – there are plenty of foods that even the most finicky eaters will enjoy.

Journal your results. Here are some ideas to get you started:

– set a good example for the picky eater(s) by eating a rainbow of colors each day, trying new foods, and engaging the family in a discussion about the food.

– develop a food vocabulary with your picky eater so that they can describe foods in words that connect. What did they like? What did they not like? Why? How can it be made so that they may eat more of it?

– offer a variety of small, bite-sized foods that they can pick and choose from. Allow 10-12 times before you decide what the picky eater in your family really doesn’t like. Sometimes repetition allows for acceptance.

– focus on texture – some kids prefer smooth foods while others like something to chew on

– experiment with different flavors – sweet, sour, spicy, etc.

– let them help with meal prep – kids are more likely to eat something they’ve had a hand in making

– be patient – it may take a few tries for them to acquire a taste for new foods

– avoid “fuzzy”, sugary and bubbly drinks that fill the stomach prior to eating. I would say definitely no snacks or soda at least an hour and a half or two hours before a meal.

– reduce and avoid distractions during meal times. No TV, cell phone, tablets, etc. Make meals a totally family engagement event.

With a little creativity and patience, you can turn mealtimes from a battle into a fun and enjoyable experience for the whole family.

Savory Baking – Any Time of Year

When Chefsville programs have baking in them, most participants are amazed that there is “Savory Baking”. The thought never occurred to them that not everything needs to be sugar, sugar and more sugar. The exceptions are breads and yeasted loaves. Everyone knows about those savory items.

Many bakers and chefs enjoy “savory baking”. There are so many things that can be made. Here are a few:

  • Quick Breads
  • Scones
  • Pastries
  • Pies
  • Tarts & Galettes
  • Batters that bake well
  • Crackers
  • Flatbreads
  • Rolls
  • Breadsticks and more
  • Yeasted loaves

For this kind of baking, flavoring opportunities are almost endless. A baker may use herbs and spices, fresh vegetables and fruits, nuts and seeds. Even cheeses and meats are a welcomed blend in savory baking.

While baking savory, one can learn the difference and uses between baking “soda” and baking “powder”. Also, celebration baking comes into play here with incredible scones, loaves of bread, and different uses for pastry doughs like puff pastry and phyllo dough. Many cuisines can be celebrated when savory baking.

Savory baking can also be done using a dutch oven or cast iron skillet.

Depending upon what is being made, learning to make food taste wonderful with a world of techniques is just amazing. At Chefsville, we tell our program goers that cooking is about shapes, sizes, colors, and textures. Certainly, the world of savory baking opens this exploration opportunity up for us.

Baking is also about shapes, sizes, colors, flavors and textures.

Other than the actual baking, we can have lots of fun deciding and making things that add to our savory baked items. Such as compound butter. Compound butter is room-temperature butter to which flavors are added. For example, take a stick of butter and add to it 2 tablespoons of fresh chopped herbs, and/or the zest of lemon, lime, or orange.

Did you know that Martha Washington (wife of George Washington) would make orange butter and biscuits? People would come from all over the country to where they lived to purchase her baked goods and the butter she made. More on Washington’s chefs can be learned from our program “Celebrate African American Cooking Greats” which is available to classrooms and assembly programs to schools.

Celebrating the seasons through baking is wonderful for educating, exploring and discovering how to bake especially with family.

With savory baking you can spice things up, use herbs and butters, cheeses, meats, vegetables, nuts, seeds, fruits and get saucy with thicker sauces for that oozy, yummy, dipping crave that makes food fun and interactive.

Please let us know what you can come up with and your favorite things that go under “savory baking” topic.

Vegan Baked Product Problems and Tips

With the rise of vegan cooking and baking, I get out and about to see what people are making.

Sometimes I run into restaurant owners, chefs, cooks and clients. What I have found is that most places are not aware of the cooking basics to make premium products. This means that consumers are paying premium prices for low-quality products. That bothers me.

Over 20 years ago, food science and research and development became quite the fad. A major example is America’s Test Kitchen. International cooking schools also have online classes to teach the basics. Online with YouTube, there are many videos as well.

The main topic I want to discuss is that for many vegan and vegetarian baking, there is so much oil and grease on my hands or plate.

This is really gross when considering I am not eating a broken sauce, but a pastry item such as bread or muffin.

The basic that got missed is that establishments that make these products aren’t keeping in mind the temperature of the mixtures they make before they bake them. If the dough is too hot, oils and butter will not incorporate correctly. If the dough is too cold, the internal temperature of the final product is not correct for the item to be “done” properly. Also with many doughs, the purveyor doesn’t allow the proper time for the dough to rise. This means I am purchasing a really dense item. If the price is by weight, then I get ripped off.

Baking Tips

Tip 1: Allow time for the dough to rise;

Tip 2: Freeze the butter or fat; then use a box grater to grate the fat. This will make pie dough flaky and chocolate can even be grated to help cool down chocolate that is being tempered.

Tip 3: To handle cakes easier, bake your cakes and freeze them anywhere from 24 hours to seven days.
Freshly baked cakes crumble too much plus they often break and tear when you are working with them. When you are ready to start working on them remove them from the freezer and let them thaw halfway.

Tip 4: When the cakes are semi-frozen it is easier to make straight cuts through them and you will not create anywhere near as many crumbs as you would with a freshly baked cake. Cakes with higher percentages of fat will not be affected by the cold temperature as cakes low in fat will be, such as angel food cake. Always wrap the cakes with food wrap.

Tip 5: Bon Bons – consider the filling and chocolate outside. For fillings that have a mild or medium flavor profile, use a white or milk chocolate couverture for the shells. For a filling that either has a strong flavor profile or is sweet, choose a dark couverture.