Food & Drink

Students at The Children’s Institute Enjoy Culinary Program with Chef

June 12, 2014 at 12:46 AM

LIVINGSTON, NJ - High School and young adult students at The Children’s Institute (TCI) in Livingston are learning all about food preparation, nutrition, cooking and baking with an expanded culinary program and new chef. The classes are offered in TCI’s new state-of-the-art instructional kitchen, which was made possible by a donation from the Olson family.

The culinary program is one of many special programs for students at TCI, which has schools in Livingston and Verona for children and young adults ages 3-21 on the autism spectrum and with related disabilities. The Livingston campus is also home to The Center for Independence, a program for adults ages 21 and up on the spectrum.

Chef Michael Matthews, who joined the staff of TCI as a new culinary arts instructor in January, is a former restaurant owner/chef who has also worked as a chef at Whole Foods and ShopRite. A 1993 graduate from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY, he also hosts foster children. He said that when he saw how much they enjoyed what he cooked for them when they came to his home, he decided he wanted to become a teacher.

Sign Up for E-News

“I decided I wanted to help and make a difference in a child’s life by teaching them about healthy cooking as well as a life skill.”

“We are a building block program,” he noted of the TCI culinary program. “We are building a foundation of strong culinary principles with food and kitchen safety mixed in each and every day as well as healthy meal planning.”

The chef and students cook and bake everything from scratch with all fresh ingredients.

“We do not use any boxes or mixes,” he said. “These children make everything from risotto to soup to Asian dumplings to cookies and Italian pastries and everything in between.”

Recently, the TCI students learned to make eggplant Provençale. They learned to properly wash and slice eggplant, bread it and then bake it with tomato sauce and fresh buffalo mozzarella. They then chopped basil for a chiffonade garnish. Chef Matthews also warned them about parasites and taught them how to wash all fresh vegetables, fruit and herbs before using. In the end, the students got to try their creations.

And, the students also bake muffins, quiches, focaccia bread and coffee cakes for a Friday Coffee Cart offered weekly to students and staff. The cart runs out quickly and teachers say the offerings are much better than the store-bought snacks which the cart used to sell.

“I think the kids truly love what they are doing,” Chef Matthews said.

High School Principal Lynn Muir said Chef Matthews has been a wonderful addition to the school staff. “Mike’s culinary background and training, along with his passion for education, compliment the culinary program,” Muir said. “He has blended into our community nicely; both students and staff have welcomed him openly.

“I truly appreciate that Mike sees the ability our students have in the kitchen,” Muir added. “He works to enhance the program by providing culinary knowledge and skills to all his ‘chefs in training.’ I look forward to developing a comprehensive program over the years with Chef Matthews that will influence our students’ food choices, vocational and independence skills.”

TCI has always had a culinary arts program for its older students. In fact, several chefs have taught culinary classes at TCI including Alma Schneider, who is known for her work with special needs children; Buddy “The Cake Boss;” and Joel Scheinzeit, former owner of “Joel’s Malibu Kitchen,” a restaurant in Ridgewood. Prior to this, teachers have always incorporated culinary arts lessons into their classrooms.

Soon, Chef Matthews will also be providing culinary lessons to adults in The Center for Independence, he said.

In addition, TCI’s film students made a cooking show for special needs individuals filming Chef Schneider cooking different recipes. Many of the shows are available on YouTube.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News


Chris Brown Named President at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New Jersey Properties

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New Jersey Properties is proud to announce the appointment of Chris Brown to President of the 21-office real estate brokerage headquartered in Somerset, New Jersey. Previously serving as Executive Vice President and General Sales Manager, Brown is a member of the company’s ownership team along with Bill Keleher, Seymour and Nancy Litwin, and Steve Janett.

Death of Missing Montclair Woman Ruled Homicide

December 2, 2016

WEST ORANGE, NJ — The death of Sarah Butler, whose body was located in the area of Eagle Rock Reservation in West Orange on Thursday after being missing for more than a week, was determined to be a homicide by the New Jersey Regional Medical Examiner’s Office, according to Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn Murray and Montclair Police Chief Todd Conforti.

Essex County ...

Elizabeth Native Diagnosed With Rare Brain Tumor

November 20, 2016

ELIZABETH, NJ – When 28-year-old, Elizabeth resident Mike Georgevich was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor, his sister Nicole didn’t hesitate to spring into action. Along with family and friends, she set up a GoFundMe to help raise funds for her brother’s upcoming surgery and potential rehabilitation thereafter.

“People's reactions and stories of their own ...

Upcoming Events

Sat, December 3, 10:00 AM

CASA of Morris and Sussex Counties, Morristown

CASA Volunteer Information Session

Education Giving Back Government Law & Justice

Sun, December 4, 1:00 PM

Montclair Art Museum, Montclair

NEW! Drop-In Studio - Every Sunday, 1–4 p.m., ...

Arts & Entertainment

Don't Sacrifice the Environment to Fund the State Treasury

November 23, 2016

Dear Editor:

New Jersey’s Natural Resource Damages (NRD) program is an incredibly important and necessary program rising from the state’s history of incremental spills and discharges, as well as historic industrialization. 

NRD requires polluters to go beyond the mandated cleanup and to pay damages for restoration and compensation for the public loss of use of natural ...

Friends of the Livingston Library Restocks Its Ongoing Book Sale for December

December 1, 2016

LIVINGSTON, NJ — Friends of the Livingston Library has fully restocked its Ongoing Book Sale for the month of December. On a monthly basis, Friends takes down all stock and replaces it with entirely new inventory. 

This is the “Friends flip.” Approximately 1200 items of fiction, non-fiction, children’s books, DVDs, and CDs are available at great ...

Andy’s Family Music Showcases Alex Weiss on Drums

LIVINGSTON, NJ — Andy’s Family Music Center of Livingston is proud to highlight 11-year-old Alex Weiss, a fifth grader at Collins Elementary School with an aptitude for drums.

Alex studies drums at Andy’s under the instruction of Joe Vitello. He says hid favorite band is Fall Out Boy and that his dad is his number one musical influence.

Check him out in the video ...

Q&A With Owners of Meadowbrook Country Day Camp

Recently, the owners of Meadowbrook Country Day Camp, Dan Milman and George Stein, took part in a fun Question and Answer session. Below are the questions and their responses. To learn more about Milman, Stein and Meadowbrook, click here to read a recent article that ran on



George: A six lb.

Getting a Handle on Thanksgiving

This year, on our National Day of Thanks, I would like to express my gratitude for having hands.

We typically don’t thank our body parts because they seldom leave us.  Most of us have not experienced unfortunate accidents or suffered the horrible consequences of war; tragic events  which might cause us to lose a limb.  

Most of us take our fingers and hands and elbows ...

My Epic Beauty Fails

One day as I was looking around a high-end cosmetics store for a new lipstick, a “beauty expert” approached me and said that I was so stunning I should forget the lipstick, and get a lip plumper instead. At first I wondered why I needed a lip plumper if I was already so stunning. But then I thought, “Now here is someone wearing a badge that says, ‘beauty expert,’ so ...