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“ I wanted to bring the kids into the restaurants where the full five senses are ignited, where they [could see how] food is connected to the artwork they’re making.” — Deva Watson, Art teacher at Southwest Leadership Academy Watson’s students can donate their artwork to Fresh Artists, but the nonprofit, along with the chefs, select what work ends up in the Fresh Artists collection. At Will BYOB, Chef Chris Kearse prepared duck l’orange for the students, and says using food “to help and teach young kids about overcoming life’s challenges” is well worth his time, adding “that hard work and discipline pay off.” (He added that watching them giggle over edible flowers is also worth it, too.) Kearse’s enthusiasm is echoed by Watson. “If there’s anybody who’s my people, and would help in anyway possible, it’s Ed Hackett [GM and overseer of Pub & Kitchen, The Diving Horse and Fitler Dining Room], Jonathan Adams [of Rival Bros Coffee] and Eli Collins [Pub & Kitchen’s new head chef] [who] have been incredibly supportive,” Watson says, referring to some of the program’s participants. For Watson’s students, Fresh Palates to Palettes teaches them that even seemingly simple food can be more than just food. If studied, if looked at from the right angle, if tasted with an open mind, the tiniest pea can become an entry into a world that never before existed. To be selected as the year’s participants (an increasingly coveted role), the sixth- and seventh-graders know that their behavior, work ethic and skill or improvement levels in the classroom matter. Eighth-grader Lynus Aubee got to visit one of the restaurants last year, and says that Fresh Palates to Palettes is about more than simply food. “I was doing something … helping others, not just myself, and I was around people who love an appreciate the same thing I do—art.”
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