Top chef helps bring healthy, balanced and nutritious school menu to one of HCMC’s most prestigious schools

Top chef helps bring healthy, balanced and nutritious school menu to one of HCMC’s most prestigious schoolsThe British Celebrity Chef and Restaurateur Jamie Oliver’s ‘School Dinners’ project sought to introduce nutritious meals into a school lunch program. It wasn’t without controversy, but it proved that healthy food could be just as delicious and satisfying as the low quality and highly processed food that the students were formerly eating.

International School Ho Chi Minh City (ISHCMC) is following in Jamie’s footsteps program to provide healthy, balanced and nutritious dishes, handcrafted with fresh and locally sourced ingredients. International chef Gabriel Boyer has been brought to ISHCMC to help develop the new school menus.

Boyer, who has previously worked at Michelin-starred restaurants L2O and Tru in Chicago and has more than four years in the local fine-dining scene, has been developing recipes, coaching staff and improving service procedures. With this new role, he has taken on the challenge of serving up as many as 1000 school meals in an hour to possibly the most demanding set of customers he has faced so far in his career.

Some of the new lunch items include Cajun spiced snapper filet with corn bread and vegetables, grilled Australian beef steak with peppercorn sauce and sundried tomato mashed potatoes, or an open grill featuring grilled Australian steak, jerk chicken and vegetable skewers, marinated bbq pork skewers, Brazilian sausages, grilled corn on the cob and a potato salad.

Other daily offerings that add variety to the menu include a daily themed salad bar with fresh vegetables, a daily soup counter serving up traditional Asian soups and a made-to-order sandwich bar. The school also offers a breakfast bar with a selection of yogurts, fresh and dried fruit, granola and cereals.  Healthy snack options are available during break times and after school and include carrot muffins, wholemeal cookies, fruit juices and smoothies.  All snacks are baked with wholemeal flour, oats and grains, and refined white sugar has been replaced with much healthier brown sugar and natural sweeteners.

“For me, it’s all about the food and it’s great that the food is such a strong focus at ISHCMC.  I’ve been very impressed with the students at ISHCMC and how willing they are to try new things,” said Boyer.

“Personally it’s a very proud moment when a student is choosing to add a salad to their school dinner, so we are helping the students at ISHCMC to make good decisions and establish healthy habits that will last a lifetime.”

ISHCMC Parent and member of the school’s canteen committee Anette Axelsen said she thought it was great to witness such a transformation. “I’m always conscious about what I feed my kids and even more worried when they’re out of sight,” she said. “Since the changes to the lunch menu at ISHCMC, students are now queuing up for the salad bar and hot gourmet counter which is food that is good for them and will keep them alert for the rest of the school day.

Director of Academic Studies, Adrian Watts said it was a well recorded fact that what you eat affects motivation and concentration levels. “I’ve been very impressed by the way students have responded to the healthy food choices and are enjoying all aspects of their new menus,” he said.