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updated: 9/23/2011 3:00 PM

Arlington Hts. chef treats students with school-grown veggies

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  • Third-graders Gaby Whisler, left, and Mary Lazzaretti talk with Chef Thomas Leavitt.

       Third-graders Gaby Whisler, left, and Mary Lazzaretti talk with Chef Thomas Leavitt.
    Bill Zars | Staff Photographer

  • Third-grader Matthew Brooks tries the spaghetti squash.

       Third-grader Matthew Brooks tries the spaghetti squash.
    Bill Zars | Staff Photographer

  • The garden at Windsor Elementary School in Arlington Heights has many workers.

       The garden at Windsor Elementary School in Arlington Heights has many workers.
    Bill Zars | Staff Photographer

  • A portion of the harvest from the Windsor Elementary School garden.

       A portion of the harvest from the Windsor Elementary School garden.
    Bill Zars | Staff Photographer

  • Chef Thomas Leavitt, owner of White Oak Gourmet personal chef service, prepares spaghetti squash with marinara sauce and smashed purple potatoes.

       Chef Thomas Leavitt, owner of White Oak Gourmet personal chef service, prepares spaghetti squash with marinara sauce and smashed purple potatoes.
    photos by Bill Zars | Staff Photographer

 
Submitted by Windsor School PTA

Parents of Windsor Elementary students are now facing an unexpected challenge many of them will probably embrace: Can they fix gourmet veggies like a professional chef?

Thomas Leavitt from White Oak Gourmet personal chef service took the bounty from the students' own garden at the Arlington Heights school and whipped up a tasting menu.

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Windsor's PTA started a garden last year with money from a local grant. One portion of the garden produced giant zucchini, watermelons, spaghetti squash and the new favorite, purple potatoes.

Youngsters planted the seeds, watered, and finally harvested the fruits and vegetables, said Windsor Principal Shelley Fabrizio.

"On harvest day, the kids loved digging in the dirt and uncovering all the root vegetables hidden underground," said Fabrizio. "Many of them had no idea that there are purple potatoes."

It was Leavitt's idea to partner with the garden, said Allyson Jannotta, PTA garden co-chair.

"I am incredibly passionate about healthy eating and was inspired by the first lady's campaign to end childhood obesity," the chef said.

"So I was looking for a way to do my part to promote better nutrition in our schools."

Goodies on the menu included steamed spaghetti squash with tomato sauce and roasted purple potatoes. The students chosen to taste the food had to either write about why they love the garden or draw a picture of the garden.

"We sent a flier home looking for children who are interested in the tasting," Fabrizio said. "The next day we already received many entries. The kids truly are excited about eating their vegetables."

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