Chef Bobo Joins NYC Firm Schools Blog as a Contributor

by NYC Firm Schools on April 20, 2009

Chef BoboWe are excited to announce that Chef Bobo (aka Robert Surles), Executive Chef and Food Service Director for The Calhoun School, will join us as a regular blog contributor in the area of school lunch and children’s food.

For 30 years Chef Bobo worked in corporate human resources management, 24 of those as Director of Recruitment and Training/USA for Air France. After taking early retirement in 1999, he took a year off to ponder his future. During that year he read Eric Schlosser’s book, Fast Food Nation, which deeply affected how he felt about the future of food in America and how it is affecting children. One day he had a “lightbulb going on” moment in which he realized he could make a difference if he spent the rest of his life working at changing the way kids eat by introducing them to real food. He immediately enrolled as a student at the French Culinary Institute in New York City in order to gain the professional skills he would need to become a chef.

Chef Bobo (aka Robert Surles), a graduate of the French Culinary Institute is currently in his seventh year as Executive Chef and Food Service Director for The Calhoun School on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, where he is spearheading a revolution in what kids eat for lunch. He is cooking natural and healthy food that features bold flavors and good nutrition as the cornerstone of his menu plan. Everything is made from scratch every day with the freshest of ingredients. The “experiment” has been a resounding success and has received national attention, with articles in Fortune Magazine (”We’ve Got to Stop Eating Like This,” 1/21/03) and The New Yorker’s Talk of the Town column, “Lunch Period; Nothing but the Best” (1/20/03). The program has also been touted on NPR’s “All Things Considered,” The Chicago Tribune, Canada’s National Post, the Los Angeles Times, “ABC’s World News Tonight”, the CBS Early Show,, Japan’s Fuji TV Network (June 2005), and Nick Jr. Magazine (September 2005), Women’s Day, USAToday and many more publications worldwide. New York Daily News and The New York Times have both done feature stories on Chef Bobo’s work.

Chef Bobo’s philosophy is simple, “You have to help kids understand the food they’re eating and where it comes from and get them involved. If you give kids interesting food that’s been seasoned and cooked well, they’re going to love it.” His goal is to develop young palates toward understanding good food so that eating well becomes a lifelong skill. He has re-educated the palettes of more than 3000 kids in grades two through 12 and has them clamoring for rutabaga fries, sautéed kale, roasted brussels sprouts, hummus, teriyaki tofu, cauliflower soup, roasted fish and all sorts of healthy and delicious meals. Chef Bobo does not try to hide healthy foods inside comfort foods. He understands that kids will like healthy foods, like kale and cauliflower, if they are cooked well.

In November 2006, Chef Bobo was honored with the prestigious Outstanding Alumni Award by the French Culinary Institute for his contributions in the Culinary Industry as a pioneer in changing the way kids eat. Earlier in 2008 his lunch program at The Calhoun School received the Kiwi Magazine Crusader Award as the model school lunch program. Most recently, Chef Bobo’s lunch program at The Calhoun School lunch program has been named one of the “Top Five Vegetarian-Friendly Firm Schools in the United States” by PETA.

He is the Chef/Owner of Chef Bobo & Associates Catering Co, which he started in 1988. He spent two years as personal chef for the New York Yankee’s shortstop and team Captain, Derek Jeter. Prior to launching his lunch program at The Calhoun School, Chef Bobo was an Instructor at the French Culinary Institute where he taught students to upscale their recipes for volume cooking.

Many of his flavorful and nutritious recipes can be found in his book, Chef Bobo’s Good Food Cookbook (Meredith Books), which received a medal as a Finalist for the IACP Cookbook Award in the Health and Special Diet Category. He is currently working on two new books, Kids WILL Eat, a book which goes farther into his work at The Calhoun School with some 200 new recipes, and Lunchbox Express, a book with ideas and recipes to help parents who prepare lunches every day for their kids to take to school.

He is serving on the newly created Advisory Board for Strategic Planning for the NYC School Lunch program. For the past 2 years Chef Bobo has been speaking to the 1500 students of the Institute of Integrative Nutrition on the topic of School Food and how it has developed at The Calhoun School.

Related posts:

  1. Private School Focus on The Calhoun School
  2. Rachel Ray’s Food is Coming to NYC Schools
  3. For What It’s Worth
  4. Things ARE happening here!
  5. Kids WILL Eat Real Food

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