Posted On: 09/01/2007
In 1989, Gregory Mosberger launched Gregory's Creative Cuisine, starting with various size parties. Over the years the business branched out and now caters private parties, corporate events, backstage eats at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater and school lunches. Wait ... school lunches? There aren't many caterers willing to venture into the hallowed halls of local elementary schools, but Mosberger and Ann Wilson, who oversees the school lunch program, pride themselves on providing nutritious meals that cater to kids' taste buds. Not an easy task.
How did you get into school catering?
Gregory: In 1991, [a] client asked if I would do a hot lunch for Wilson School, where her three children went. We tried it out and then other schools started calling us. Sixteen years later, we're doing eight schools and around 600 children.
Ann, what is your role?
Ann: I do the ordering. I do the cooking. The paperwork. Sending everybody out every day, making sure they have everything they need.
How do you get the contracts? Most schools know about Mariott ...
G: ... [and] Aramark; those are the big ones, yeah.
Why would they choose a small operation?
G: None of [our schools] have kitchens.
Aramark and Mariott are at big schools that have commercial kitchens. We make everything here, load it in insulated Cambro containers, drive to the schools, set up a buffet line with chafing dishes or steam tables and serve it.
Do you guys even supply the lunch lady?
A: Oh, we are the lunch lady.
G: There's 11 girls in my kitchen doing school lunches. They do the lunches [and] I do the creative catering, so I do not go in my own kitchen until after 11. I stay outta there.
A: And we present it in a totally different way than "hot-lunch lady" with the hairnet and slopping on the mashed potatoes.
How have the menus changed over the years?
G: Back in '91, no one cared about ... what children were eating. So we gave the children what they wanted. Cheeseburgers, toasted ravioli. Just make it pretty on the little tray, serve it hot with a smile. Over the last 10 years, people are more concerned about everything. So we go to wheat bread. Or a portabella burger.
Do kids eat that?
A: Some will look at it and say, "No way." But they are willing to try for the most part.
What are the favorites?
A: [Baked] chicken rings. And nachos were always a favorite, but it's not the healthiest meal. We used to put ground beef on them, but this year we're doing grilled chicken on top, which the kids really like.
G: Instead of fries, we're doing mashed potatoes. Then they get a Caesar salad and veggie sticks and a baked apple with cinnamon. All the veggies are fresh.
Do kids gravitate toward healthy options?
A: One day [a kid] came up to me and I told him to try [carrot sticks], and so he got a little bit of ranch dressing and he came back and was like, "Why didn't you tell me salad was
so good?" Just because he never tried it with the dressing. And now, if there's carrot sticks, he'll tell me to take the burger off and give him all carrot sticks.
You're becoming a food educator.
A: You almost have to be because of the way the world is now. I think that's the way a lot of parents are: "Well, at least they're getting a good lunch [at school] ... we'll be eating
McDonald's tonight on our way to soccer practice."
And it's the parents that are paying you, not the schools.
A: The school doesn't pay us at all.
So the school just supplies a room.
G: The schools don't have to worry about insurance, workman's comp. It's all our responsibility.
This cuts down on cost tremendously for the schools.
A: No staff. No equipment upkeep. It's a win-win.
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