Abbotsford culinary arts students learn about endive

Locally grown product delivered to classrooms to aid in education

Rick Hansen students Gabby Hofer

Rick Hansen students Gabby Hofer

Rick Hansen Secondary in Abbotsford was one of 28 high schools to receive a delivery of Belgian endive this month, as part of the Take a Bite of BC program developed by the BC Agriculture in the Classroom Foundation.

Students on Take a Bite of BC are introduced to a wide range of BC products, like endive, that they ordinarily would not have access to and use them in teaching kitchens. B.C.-grown products are donated to the program and delivered to participating school teaching kitchens during select months of the school year.

A relative of the dandelion family, endive has gained a reputation as being somewhat bitter, but it remains sweet when taken straight off the farm and to the teaching kitchens.

Abbotsford endive grower Ria Van Eekelen of Van Eekelen Enterprises donates her locally grown product to the teaching kitchens.

“The reason endive can sometimes have a bitter taste, is because it isn’t stored properly,” said Van Eekelen. “If they are eaten fresh they will retain their sweetness.”

Van Eekelen has been growing endive in the valley since 1978. Although more of a rarity in North America, endive is a staple in Europe, being boiled or braised with weekday meals. In Abbotsford, fresh endive is grown year round.

Culinary arts students at Rick Hansen used it to spice up the menu for a school banquet of 200 people this spring.

They prepared a dish of endive and herb-roasted chicken and a spring salad featuring endive as the main attraction.

Take a Bite of BC was developed by BC Agriculture in the Classroom Foundation in partnership with the BC Culinary Arts Association, BC agricultural commodity groups and B.C. producers. For more information and recipes, visit www.aitc.ca/bc.