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From the Kitchen of Chef Ryan

Kids’ 5 Most Requested Meals, 5 No Thank You Meals

For Chef Ryan Lewis, food is his love language. It’s how he shows people he cares or is thinking about them. “This is what makes my job at Rainbows not really a job,” he said. “It’s something I just love to do. The kids here are like a bunch of little best buddies to me and seeing them sit down and enjoy something I prepared is just the best. Something that’s always stood out to me, and this is especially true in Room 4 (toddlers), is how quiet it gets at mealtime. It’s chaos one moment, then as soon as they are at the table, you can hear a pin drop.”

What’s it like to cook for 70 children under age 6 every day, filling their bellies with nutritious, delicious food?  Chef Ryan answers our questions below.

  • What are the top 5 most requested meals?  I’m sure you can imagine what the top requests are: Think pizza, chicken nuggets, popcorn chicken, tacos, and cheeseburgers. But then some of the kids surprise me from time to time by really getting into a meal like a casserole or turkey and mashed potatoes. Sometimes, when I need to cook a meal for the board room, I’ll make a “snacky” lunch for the kids, consisting of turkey lunch meat, cheddar cheese cubes, veggie crackers and melon that seems to go over well. Another honorable mention is chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes and gravy.
  • What are the top 5 meals with the most leftovers? LOL
  • What are the bottom 5 meals?  That’s a tough one. I would say things like chicken and brown rice, sloppy joes (surprisingly) and chicken & noodles come to mind. There are some dishes that I have completely taken out of rotation; red beans & rice and shepherd’s pie come to mind.
  • What are the most common questions the kids ask Chef Ryan?  The number one question, without a doubt, is “what’s for lunch”, closely followed by “what’s for snack” and “what’s for lunch tomorrow”.  And if I’m not wearing my Dodgers’ cap, you can bet there will be at least two or three that ask me where it is. It’s funny the things kids notice that adults wouldn’t think twice about.
  • What is it like to cook for 70 children every day?  This was a bit of a challenge to get used to at the beginning of my time with Rainbows. Coming from a long restaurant background, I’m used to cooking a ton of food, but it’s in groups of two or four, kind of more manageable chunks.
  • Do you have any advice for people cooking at home?  The main thing is staying organized and most importantly, CLEAN AS YOU GO! That’s the best piece of advice I can give to anyone cooking for any amount of people. Clean as you go, and your life will be much easier.

Chef Ryan, thank you for feeding Rainbows’ children nutritious and delicious meals prepared with love.