January 2016 Archives

Ben Ferreira & H-E-B

Sandra Cook
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Ben Ferreira with Justin Myers_BPS 2014_Kim Coffman Photography_For Blog.jpeg

For February 2016 we are highlighting our community partner and sponsor H-E-B, greatly fueled by our relationship with Ben Ferreira. While attending an event at RecipeHouse with H-E-B Houston Division President Scott McCelland, Ben Ferreira was introduced to Gracie Cavnar and the mission of Recipe for Success. "We watched a video about the mission an programs of Recipe for Success, which were quite gripping to me," says Ferreira, Regional Director of Produce and Floral for H-E-B. As the regional director, he oversees many aspects of the produce business and supports local farmers by developing business relationships with local growers.  He also leads a team of more than 100 department managers in more than 80 retail locations. (photo above by Kim Coffman Photography.) 

H-E-B has been a tremendous partner for Recipe for Success. For the past five years, H-E-B's donations have ranged between $15,000 and $25,000 annually in support of our Blue Plate Special Café & Awards Luncheon. H-E-B has also generously supported our annual VegOut! Challenge by donating amounts ranging from $10,000 to $15,000 each year. The company has also made numerous in-kind donations of food and hosted in-store events and field trips, in addition to their wonderful participation on our board.

"In my work at H-E-B, I come across many people in the industry who are concerned about and working to stop childhood obesity, but Gracie's approach is different," says Ferreira. "It really changes the way kids think about their food in a very positive way." 

The foundation's programs and mission spoke to Ferreira in a very personal way. Ferreira explains that he grew up in a home with a father who was a passionate gardener who grew much of the family's produce and a mother who was a consummate chef. "My earliest memories are all in the kitchen. All of our food was homegrown and prepared by hand."

When Scott McClelland asked Ferreira to join our Board of Directors, Ferreira happily agreed. "I am pleased to be a liaison for H-E-B and happy to make my personal contributions to the board," says Ferreira, who also recently became a member of Hope Farms Board, as well as its and finance committee.

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"After I had the opportunity to judge the Iron Chef completion at MacGregor Elementary I was hooked," says Ferreira. "It was so great to see the kids who were so proud of crops they had grown and then watch them create a dish -- without even a recipe to start with. That solidified my impressions of Recipe for Success."  

Ferreira highlights the power of the foundation's school programs. "One of the things I really like about Recipe for Success' Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education™ is the impact it has beyond the schools," says Ferreira. "Gracie has shared with us the data that shows the impact on families, which in turn impacts the community. When the kids experience the lessons in school, it takes hold at home as kids encourage parents and family members to adopt what they have learned. At H-E-B, we have seen customer shopping trends shift more toward fresh food."

He hopes H-E-B's VegOut! 2016 companywide participation will be stronger than before. "My focus is selling more fresh produce, so I am hoping we'll be better integrated with the VegOut! 2016 campaign and can trumpet the nutritious eating message more fully in our stores," says Ferreira. "We hope to host events at our cooking connections and feature promotional materials for the VegOut! Challenge in stores." He also say H-E-B plans to use the VegOut! Challenge in March as a springboard for events and campaigns the store has planned for the rest of the year, which echo the message of eating fresh, nutritious food.  "We've also been working with H-E-B's corporate office in San Antonio, and hope to take the collaboration with Recipe for Success to a corporate scale across all stores," he says.

"There are a lot of people who are working to reduce obesity in children and adults, but Recipe for Success is a unique and effective program that stands out nationally," says Ferreira. "It's so great that Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education™ is fully scalable for affiliates and partners to participate across the country. The education piece is so unique and engaging. There is a huge opportunity to replicate the program nationally."  

To inquire about board opportunities, contact our board liaison, Stephanie Hill

Volunteer of Month - Feb 2015 Kay DeLaMater

Shannon Smith
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Volunteer_Kay DeLaMater_at Volunteer Party Dec 2015.jpgDelightful and dedicated volunteer Kay DeLaMater first learned about Recipe for Success in 2012 while searching volunteerhouston.org and has been donating her time and energy as an Office Star at RecipeHouse ever since.

"I was between jobs and looking for opportunities to volunteer close to my home," explains Kay. "Recipe for Success was a good match because my whole life centers on food. My love of healthy food began in childhood -- that's when we need to instill good eating habits. Children by nature are so wonderfully open to new ideas and flexible in their habits." 

Kay tells us she was fortunate that her own mother shaped her attitudes towards food and nutrition in very positive ways. "My mother was a registered dietitian and my best foodie friend," says Kay. "From her I learned that cooking can be an expression of love and that nutritious food is delicious. She allowed me to be involved with daily meal preparation as soon as I was old enough to follow basic instructions and to kneel on a stool pulled up to the kitchen counter."

Kay says she enjoys working alongside the staff at RecipeHouse. "Their enthusiasm is infectious," she says. "I've become known as 'the lady who likes to hand-address envelopes,'" she says proudly.

This past November, Kay helped out at RecipeHouse on the hectic days leading up the Blue Plate Special Café & Awards Luncheon. "It reminded me of when I worked for a professional association whose main focus was planning a huge annual conference for our members," says Kay. "We would have been sunk without our volunteers in the 11th hour! I was therefore very happy to assist the staff at Recipe House in their time of need. I've always been a behind-the-scenes sort of person. No matter the organization, I love providing administrative support so that others can spend time on the front lines."

Upon Recipe for Success Foundation's 10th birthday, Kay shares her dreams for the continued impact of the organization over the next 10 years. "I'd like to see continued growth of programs such as the VegOut! 30 Ways in 30 Days Challenge," says Kay. "It's a fun way for the adult community to be involved in the Foundation's mission. Adults ultimately determine children's diets. If we improve our eating habits, we can lead children by example."

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Shannon Smith
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Chef Justin loves to share his deliciously nutritious recipes from RecipeHouse. Let us know what you think, or better yet--send us your favorites!

Start your day (or the weekend) with his flavorful satisfying SAVORY BAKED EGGS. What's your favorite breakfast creation? Send your tastiest recipe to justinkouri@recipe4success.org. You can also check out Justin's past recipes on the RecipeHouse blog or sign up for a class to learn first hand how to create tasty and nutritious meals and snacks.

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Savory Baked Eggs

Recipe & Photos by Justin Kouri


2 Tbsp olive oil

1 onion

2 cloves garlic

28 ounces crushed tomatoes

1 Tbsp fresh thyme

1 Tbsp + 1 tsp fresh oregano, divided

1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

3 cup fingerling potatoes, boiled

4 eggs

1 cup fontina, shredded

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Preheat oven to 400F. Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and sautee until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, thyme, oregano and red pepper flakes, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, quarter potatoes and distribute among 4 large ramekins. Divide the tomato sauce among the ramekins. (This recipe can be prepared up to this point in advance.) In the center of each ramekin make a well within the potatoes and place the egg. Sprinkle with fontina and bake for 15 minutes or until egg is cooked, but yolk is still runny. Remove from oven and rest for 5 minutes. (This part is important because the egg will continue to cook.) Serve with toast points.

Yield: 4 servings

Prep time: 15 minutes

Active cooking time: 15 minutes

Total time: 30 minutes

Skill level: Easy

Up Close with Chef Lance Fegen

Sandra Cook
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Chef Lance Fegen_Portrait 2015 _For Blog.jpeg

Dynamic Houston chef and restaurateur Lance Fegen jumped in as one of our original Chefs Advisory Board members back in 2006, helping to develop recipes still used in our classes today. Chef Lance didn't hesitate to volunteer in the classroom at N.Q. Henderson Elementary during those early years, and has hosted field trips to his restaurants and dinners benefitting Recipe for Success.

"At the time that Gracie was launching Recipe for Success, I had just started a family and was enjoying spending time with my own kids," says Chef Fegen. "I had so much good in my life that I wanted to give some of that to others. Growing up, my mom took good care of us, especially with her cooking, says Fegen. "I know not all kids have that, so it's great to be able to pass those lessons along to the students. Once you get into the Recipe for Success classroom you fall in love with the kids and their learning process. It really becomes a part of you -- the effort you give to the kids you get back tenfold." 

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Fegen, who studied at the Culinary Institute of America in New York, first put his mark on the Houston culinary scene with restaurants such as Zula, Trevisio and Glass Wall. Later, he joined forces with business partner Lee Ellis and today their F.E.E.D. TX Restaurant group operates BRC Gastropub and multiple Liberty Kitchen locations in Houston and Austin. Fegen has also served on the Board of Directors with Houston Food Bank and worked with their Kids Café. 

Fegen has been busy opening several restaurants in recent years, but is looking forward to having time to share our Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education™ once again. "I have missed getting into the classroom and I would love to get back to it," he says.

 Fegen also says he highly recommends the experience to other chefs. "Go out and give some of yourself to others and expect nothing in return -- no glory, no accolades," says Fegen. "I believe chefs should give back: teach students how to cook and show them that restaurant careers are accessible. It's not about your persona: spend time with kids who look up to you, you will find it's very rewarding." 

He applauds the Recipe for Success classroom tradition where students pledge to be a food adventurer, because it helps keep kids' minds open. "These kids don't say, 'no, I'm not gonna try that,'" says Fegen. "It's interesting to see other kids, even my own, who haven't had this type of nutrition education, who will refuse to try new things."

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Fegen's enthusiasm for the program and the students it serves goes even further. "These kids are excited about the learning process and become invested in what they eat," says Fegen. They develop a deep connection to their food and where it comes from - that's important. I wouldn't have become a chef if I hadn't had an Italian cooking family. My mom had me rolling meatballs at age 5."

Fegen challenges grown-ups to learn more about their food, too. "I encourage anyone who calls themselves a foodie to go beyond the restaurants," says Fegen. "Get out and experience where your food comes from, explore the farmers markets, touch, smell, shop seasonally, grow your own. You become a true 'culinarian' by developing that deeper appreciation."