Featured on both Rachael Ray
and WHYY-TV's Friday Arts
program, the innovative program Fresh Palates to Palettes is back for a second round at the Southwest Leadership Academy Charter School
(SLA). The multifaceted four-month curriculum exposes SLA's students to some of Philadelphia's best culture and cuisine as part of a collaborative effort to fight arts funding cuts in schools.
The program's parent organization, Fresh Artists
, is an award-winning local nonprofit that empowers children to create art in exchange for art supply donations to their schools. Fresh Palates to Palettes is a pilot project of the Fresh Artists Greenhouse Program, an incubator of entrepreneurial ideas, networking support and development acumen for art teachers.
Students in Fresh Palates to Palettes are connected with local restaurants, chefs and artists. This year's participants include Lacroix, Bistrot La Minette, Pub & Kitchen, and Vernick Food & Drink. SLA's art teacher, Deva Watson, or "Chef" to her students, leads the classroom implementation of the program.
Watson has spent many years working in local kitchens, and she carries over lessons learned in the hospitality industry to her classroom. Her mantra emphasizes working "hard, clean and with efficiency."
Watson began the program by teaching her students about still life art. At each restaurant, students will be served the chef's signature dish, then sketch the meal. Acclaimed food photographers, including Flying Kite's Michael Persico, will then style the sketches.
Fresh Palates to Palettes will culminate in the spring with several high profile exhibitions: a public pop-up of the entire project at Metropolitan Gallery 250
; and a private reception for the chefs and project donors at Avance,
hosted by Chef Justin Bogle. Each participating chef will highlight "Le Choix du Chef
" (Chef's Choice). On March 20, those four selected artists will be honored with a special cooking lesson courtesy of South Philadelphia Taproom chef Scott Schroeder, hosted by COOK
Barbara Chandler Allen, founder and president of Fresh Artists, believes the previous run of the project showed its ability to break down barriers for students while introducing them to potential creative careers and honing additional skills.
"In our second year, Fresh Palates to Palettes, like a fine wine, continues to improve with age," says Allen. "Last year's pilot project has blossomed into a richer, deeper educational experience for the children and the generous culinary community supporting them. Our kids are learning there are real exciting jobs in the creative economy if you are passionately engaged in learning and connecting. Fresh Artists is committed to opening doors for city kids -- changing their scripts and raising the bar so high that they will aim to sail over it."
Writer: Nicole Woods
Source: Barbara Chandler Allen, Fresh Artists