Interview with the Director of Menu Management for the New York City Department of Education SchoolFood and Culinary Educator at LaGuardia College
Nicole Langone Scarangello was one of those young people struggling to identify their post-high school graduation path until she took a culinary class at Tottenville High School on Staten Island and was introduced to Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP).
That quickly paved the way for a new and exciting adventure for her. She competed as a junior in the C-CAP Cooking Competition for Scholarships where she excelled and was awarded a scholarship to study at Le Cordon Bleu in London, England. Her culinary arts teacher Warren Schueler accompanied her on that trip and continued to play an essential role coaching her for the senior competition. The judges recognized her talent and awarded her a scholarship from the prestigious organization Les Dames d’Escoffier New York chapter and a full-tuition scholarship to New York City College of Technology, where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in Hospitality Management. She attended the French Culinary Institute (now ICC) and completed the Essential Techniques of Food Styling program. She continued her education at Brooklyn College, where she received her Masters of Science in Nutrition and completed her Dietetic Internship.
During the course of her career, Nicole Langone Scarangello has worked at five-star resorts and restaurants where she learned about food preparation, inventory systems, and banquet service management and planning. While working for Aramark, she directed multiple food and nutrition establishments in hospitals throughout New York City.
C-CAP students from underserved communities aspiring to become future celebrity chefs faced a challenge from the nationwide 2018 Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP) Meatless Monday Recipe Contest. The challenge: create an innovative meatless dish and impress the distinguished panel of judges, which included Nicole. She provided the nutritional analysis for each of the recipes submitted.
As the Director of Menu Management for the New York City Department of Education SchoolFood, she oversees 29 posted menus, 1,230 kitchens, over 8,000 employees working in the kitchens and feeding close to 1 million children each school day. Nicole Langone Scarangello took time out of her busy schedule to tell us about her professional life.
What is your role as the Director of Menu Management for the New York City Department of Education SchoolFood?
I supervise a team of 13 people and together we develop and create recipes and menus to support New York City schools. We work directly with vendors in procuring product to support SchoolFood recipes and menus, ensuring that all items and menus meet and surpass city, state, and federal regulations. My team also works with school administration and students in organizing and conducting student taste testing at the central office test kitchen.
How do you involve the teens in the Student Taste Testing?
At Student Taste Testing field trips students are provided a sample of a potential new or current product and/or recipe and they are asked to evaluate and give feedback on the sample. Student taste testing evaluation plays a huge role in product procurement and menu/recipe development.
Can you tell us about the Garden to Cafe program in the schools?
Menu Management also manages all Garden to Cafe relations and partnerships in about 180 schools throughout the five boroughs along with the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program are both great programs to expose students to fresh, local and the variety of produce in a cafeteria setting. The Menu Management Research and Developments team along with our internal contracts unit works directly with vendors and our distributors ensuring that our process for reviewing potential new products meets all processes and nutritional expectations.
How does SchoolFood develop relationships with vendors?
We hold an annual Product Industry Review in which we invite new and existing vendors to showcase products that can potentially support future contract bids and outreaches and untimely menu innovation and creation. The Product Industry Review is also a wonderful opportunity for SchoolFood to share its needs and wants in regards to nutritional exceptions and flavor profiles and potentially not only get a product that will support SchoolFood menus but also impact an industry for nutritional sound and good tasting items!
What are you teaching at LaGuardia College?
I started teaching at LaGuardia College for the Fall 2018 semester. I will be teaching the Advance Culinary Arts class lecture and lab. Students in the class will be introduced to some of the fundamentals of French cuisine including learning about the mother sauces, complete their knowledge of roasting a succulent chicken and healthy vegetarian cookery.
LaGuardia College offers new programs in nutrition and culinary arts?
For the first time, they are offering more than one culinary arts course as part of the new Nutrition & Culinary Management program. They continue to offer a Foodservice Management program.
The college along with the department is hopeful in expanding the program and enriching students with the knowledge and direction to better further their education and career. I am excited to be a part of this process and change and look forward to the new teaching experience, promoting the department and inspiring students to be their best.
As she continues on her journey as a dietitian, nutrition and culinary professional, Nicole Langone Scarangello follows a simple philosophy that she has always strongly believed in; her belief is “to marry the art of delicious food with nutrition knowledge and to enlighten all with my craft.”