CHEF Teaching Kitchen: Bringing Families Together

by Matt Sirgo
Downtown San Antonio
May 11, 2018

“We learn new things every time we come here,” says Donelle Tedder, student of the Culinary Health Education for Families (CHEF) Teaching Kitchen at The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio. “Yeah, the best thing I could cook before was cereal,” jokes her sister Dalia. CHEF Program Director Maria Palma explains that the family dynamic of the classes is purposeful. “It’s all centered around healthy food,” she explains, “But it’s really about family bonding and growth together.” When families participate in healthy cooking together, they develop good habits that improve the health of the household.

“Man I put all this hard work into it. That means it’s going to taste twice as good,” says Donelle. When she was diagnosed with “new onset” diabetes, her doctor referred her to the CHEF program to make sure she had the tools to maintain a healthy diet.

Today she, her mother Debbie, her sister Dalia and two other families are making burger bites and trail mix, just two of many healthy recipes they’ve learned at CHEF. The instructor for this lesson, Maria Palma, is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and former nutritionist for the San Antonio Food Bank.

The CHEF team at the Children’s Hospital Teaching Kitchen includes Medical Director Dr. Julie La Barba, Nutrition Education Specialist Celina Parás, Program Coordinator Rebecca Vance, and Chef/Program Director Maria Palma.

This all started in 2015 when, in response to skyrocketing obesity and diabetes rates in the community, the Goldsbury Foundation and The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio partnered together to create a childhood nutrition initiative.

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