MONTCLAIR, NJ - Montclair’s Health & Wellness team invited Floyd Cardoz to Hillside Elementary School on International Food Day. A recent winner of Food Network Top Chef Master, Iron Chef, previously a recipient of Humanitarian of the Year award, world-renowned chef Cardoz strolled into Hillside Elementary School early Monday morning ready to promote healthy eating habits.

Cardoz rolled up his sleeves, asked for some gloves, put on his apron, and along with several parent volunteers, prepared a wide sampling of healthy food for Hillside students. 

Products used were courtesy of Fairway as well as Hillside’s community garden. In addition, the local Whole Foods also contributed to the cause.

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Prior to the live demonstration in the cafeteria, Cardoz aptly chopped broccoli, including stalks which he peeled and cut down, saying the recipe was quite simple, “Toss the broccoli in olive oil, salt, pepper, a little bit of chili flakes, and bake at 400 degrees. When they come out of the oven you put some lemon and honey to make it slightly sweet.”

Parents, who were also fans of the chef, delighted in assisting with the prep. Chanda Hall told Cardoz, “I’ve watched you so much, I actually feel like I know you.”

Natasha Mathias, who invited Cardoz, said, “He's an old friend of mine, he’s a chef and chemical engineer who went on to culinary school in Switzerland. He cares deeply about healthy eating and eating local. I'm trying to get kids to think about healthier snack alternatives. My goal is to raise awareness among kids to make healthier choices, and move away from processed food.”

In response to the conundrum of today’s families, faced with busy schedules and picky palates who may not garner their children’s interest with healthy foods, Mathias insisted, “If we spent a little more time making foods they don't enjoy taste fantastic by using different spices, like lemon, honey, ginger etc. and enroll their palates, it would lead them to eat better.”

Later on in the cafeteria, students were given the opportunity to try fruit smoothies and freshly roasted broccoli during their assigned lunch period.

Mathias, addressed the children saying, “Food day is when we actually think about what we are going to eat.” She then introduced Cardoz as a famous chef from New York City, winner of Top Chef Masters, who advocates eating simple, local, fresh food. He was met with a resounding round of applause as many children recognized him immediately.

Cardoz’s first remarks were about whether the Mets were due to win a game. The young sports fans vociferously offered their opinions.

When asked by TapInto if they knew what was special about today, one student replied, “Yes. It’s world food day. My food and science teacher told me. Yesterday we had a celebration.” Yet another student told us, “Well yes, that’s why I am sitting up front-- to try the food first!”

When it was time for sampling, a large group of children flocked toward the chef’s table to try the broccoli. A few of them assured us that they already liked broccoli even before it was seasoned with lemon and honey.