Vahista Ussery, a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and chef, is the co-founder of To Taste and a member of Chef Cyndie’s K12 Culinary Team. She has a BS in Coordinated Program in Dietetics from Texas Christian University, a MS in Food Systems Administration and MBA from Texas Woman’s University, and a Certificate of Culinary Arts from the Culinary School of Fort Worth. She has run her own catering business, in addition to serving as Menu Planner for Dallas ISD, Dietitian/Supervisor and Chef for Hurst Euless Bedford ISD, and Child Nutrition Consultant for Education Service Center Region 11. Vahista resides in Fort Worth, TX with her husband, baby boy, and kale eating chocolate lab mix.
To Taste is a culinary nutrition consulting and education company. To Taste believes the best way to gain control of your health is through cooking. When you cook, you decide what goes into your body. To Taste works with companies and organizations to teach their employees, clientele, or the public how to cook with nutrition at the foundation. School foodservice, teaching kids to cook, and working with community organizations are the focus!
- ¾ cup Farro
- 6 oz. Asparagus
- 6 oz. Cherry tomatoes
- 4 oz. Sugar snap peas
- 1 Shallot or ¼ cup chopped
- 3 oz. Feta cheese, crumbled
- 2 Tbsp. Dill, chopped
- 2 Tbsp. Italian parsley, chopped
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 1 Tbsp. Balsamic vinegar
- 1 Small garlic clove, minced
- ¼ tsp Dijon mustard
- ¼ tsp. Salt
- 1/8 tsp. Pepper
- 2 Tbsp. Extra virgin olive oil
- Rinse and drain farro. Place in a pot and add enough water or stock/broth to cover. Add a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 30 minutes. Drain off any excess liquid. Transfer to a cookie sheet (the thinner the farro is spread, the faster it will cool!) and slightly cool.
- Snap off ends of asparagus and cut into 1 inch pieces.
- Cut cherry tomatoes and sugar snap peas in half.
- Chop shallot.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add asparagus and sugar snap peas. Cook for 2 minutes. Immediately drain and submerge in an ice bath or place in refrigerator. Once cool, drain (if using ice bath).
- Prepare dressing: In a large bowl, whisk balsamic vinegar with minced garlic, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper. Slowly add extra virgin olive oil while continuously whisking.
- Add slightly cooled farro, vegetables, feta cheese, and chopped herbs to dressing. Using, a spatula, fold to evenly coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- 6 lbs 4 oz Broccoli crowns
- 1/2 cup Olive oil
- 3/4 tsp. Garlic powder
- 3/4 tsp. Salt
- 3/4 tsp. Pepper
- 1 Tbsp. Lemon juice
- 1/3 cup Parmesan, grated
- Preheat convection oven to 400°F.
- Cut broccoli crowns into florets.
- In a large bowl, whisk together olive oil with garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Add broccoli florets, and using a spatula, toss to coat evenly.
- Place 3 pounds of broccoli florets in a single layer on each full size sheet pan.
- Roast at 400°F for 12-15 minutes or until fork tender and tips are starting to brown. Internal temperature should be 135°F or above.
- Transfer broccoli to 2 1/2 inch full size steamtable pans for service. Toss with lemon juice and then sprinkle with grated parmesan.
- Hold and serve at 135°F or above.
- Serve using a 4 oz spoodle or #8 disher.
RAPID FIRE Q&A
Click a question to reveal an answer
1) Where do you get your ideas from? How do you get your inspiration for new items?
2) To what degree do healthful menu items (based on inherent health, diet-related health, and lifestyle) influence your menu?
3) Any predictions on trends in the near future?
4) Describe briefly your recipe selection, favorite part, why did you select It?
5) Who was your inspiration or mentored you along the way?
6) What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
7) What has been one of your biggest challenges in your career?
8) What is one of the best meals you have eaten or your favorite restaurant?
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