Empowering Student Palates with VIP Tasters Program

Whitsons Prepared Meals has launched an innovative initiative, the VIP Tasters Program, aimed at revolutionizing how students engage with food while contributing feedback for product development.

The program, which involves student volunteers or ‘VIP Tasters,’ is designed to empower students to provide valuable feedback on food items while contributing to the development of new culinary offerings. Through this program Whitsons brings a team of culinary and operational experts directly into the school environment.

At a recent tasting event hosted at the Achievement Preparatory Academy, in Washington DC, thirty enthusiastic fifth graders eagerly took on the role of VIP Tasters. Under the guidance of Whitsons’ Culinary Chef, Anthony Nazario, and Customer Success Manager, Chelsea Gurley, students explored new creations including Honey Chicken Ciabatta, Buffalo Chicken Flatbread and Chicken Adobo with Cilantro Lime Rice with Mexican Corn.

At another VIP Tasters event, Chef Anthony Nazario and Kim Parker, Regional Director of Customer Experience, visited J.S. Jenks Elementary School (Chestnut Hill) in PA where students enjoyed a variety of meals from our Prepared Meals division including Apple Cinnamon Overnight Oats and Turkey Salsa Bowl with Pinto Beans.

These events were not only about sampling food; it was an educational journey. The students delved into the intricacies of taste, learning to describe and articulate their sensory experiences. Equipped with their own chef hats and aprons, the VIP Tasters embarked on the “Art of Tasting,” employing descriptive vocabulary to evaluate aspects such as appearance, aroma, texture, and flavor.

“We want students to understand that tasting food is more than just eating; it’s an experience that engages all the senses,” remarked Anthony Nazario.

The VIP Tasters Program extends beyond culinary exploration. It fosters critical thinking and communication skills, encouraging students to form persuasive arguments and voice their opinions effectively. By providing a platform for students to express their food preferences, the program not only enhances school menus but also cultivates valuable life skills.

“Through the VIP Tasters Program, students learn the importance of expressing their opinions and advocating for what they believe in,” noted Chelsea Gurley. “These skills will serve them well beyond the dining hall.”

The initiative reflects Whitsons’ commitment to fostering healthy eating habits and empowering the next generation to make informed food choices. By engaging students as partners in the culinary process, Whitsons hopes to create a culture of collaboration and innovation that extends far beyond the school cafeteria.

As the VIP Tasters Program continues to expand, Whitsons looks forward to nurturing young palates and shaping the future of food through the eyes of our most discerning critics—the students themselves.

To view more pictures from the J.S. Jenks Elementary VIP Tasters event, click here.