Letters to the Editor: The Accurate Story Behind The Husky Chef Program


Letters to the Editor: June 25 – July 1, 2015


The Accurate Story Behind The Husky Chef Program


I’ve been disappointed to read articles about the Mary Ellen Henderson Husky Chef competition and see them fail to give credit where credit is due. There have been morning announcement stories, Falls Church City Public Schools tweets, a Washington Post: Kids-Post article, and Falls Church News-Press articles that have named FCCPS Food Service director Richard Kane and even former Henderson principal Seidah Ashshaheed as the sole creators of this award winning program.

A more accurate story behind the competition is that it was an initiative created by former Henderson Family and Consumer Science (FACS) teacher, Jeff Buck, and former assistant principal and Career and Teacher Education teacher, Jeanne Seabridge. They enlisted the help of City Schools BIE Director Marybeth Connelly for community judges and Richard Kane for the USDA school food guidelines in order to serve the dishes for lunch.
For the past two years, the program has been run by me, Dawn Tarter, the current Henderson FACS teacher. Like my predecessor, Mr. Buck, I spend each quarter teaching students about nutrition, how to follow a recipe and about making healthy substitutions to prepare them for this culminating project. I then introduce the program to the students, facilitate on research days and help them come up with substitutions and adjustments to meet nutritional and cost criteria.

Last year, I started providing the students with a “secret ingredient” to make the judging criteria more uniform and the dish planning more challenging. I also take each class of students on a walking field trip to Giant to purchase groceries. Richard Kane comes in on competition day and, with his assistant Sindy Morel, conducts interviews with judges and teams about the competition. Richard Kane and Sindy Morel, along with Tish Pugh, are instrumental in coordinating the winning teams’ meal preparation in the cafeteria.

As you can see, this program has involved the efforts of many staff members and it is not just a one-person creation that provides students with such a valuable real-world experience.

Dawn Tarter

Falls Church


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