CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Last year when Dole Food Company made plans for its “Now We’re (All) Cooking” initiative to encourage aspiring chefs at all levels back into the kitchen to cook, an in-person cooking class for bloggers and influencers seemed like a natural part of the three-month program continuing through mid-January 2021.
After all, what better way is there to demonstrate the “anyone-can-cook” mantra of the initiative, inspired by Disney and Pixar’s Ratatouille, than Dole Nutrition and Health Communications Manager Melanie Marcus, MA, RD, walking participants step-by-step through the creation of healthy versions of the same French-themed dishes featured in the beloved film?
Of course, COVID-19 had other plans for 2020 so Dole shifted the emphasis to a virtual class and expanded the invite list to include more bloggers, influencers and others nationwide. The Nov. 12 online celebration proved so successful that Dole is already making plans for additional virtual cooking classes and other web- and social-based hands-on activities in 2021 to support its long-term health and wellness goals and future chapters of its multi-year nutrition collaboration with The Walt Disney Company.
“As it turns out, going virtual allowed us to share our healthy recipes and cooking tips with aspiring chefs and Dole and Disney fans from California to Connecticut and from Omaha to Las Vegas,” said Marcus. “It also showed the appetite that many families have for being in the kitchen and cooking together, regardless of the pandemic. We’re already planning expanded encore virtual cooking classes for 2021.”
During the inaugural class, Marcus led several dozen enthusiasts through the preparation of Little Chef Potato-Leek Soup, a Dole version of the classic dish that started it all for Linguini and Remy in Disney and Pixar’s Ratatouille, and Oui Oui Wafer Banana Macarons made with DOLE® Bananas, Kiwi, mandarin oranges and vegan cream cheese. The class also included a recap of the Dole and Disney collaboration since the 1970s, impacts of the current wellness efforts from both Dole and Disney representatives and a trivia quiz with prizes.
Among the cooking class participants were Jamie Lee McIntyre of The Kingdom Insider; Bri Simpson of Eat See Magic; Katie Trauffer of Fairytale Foodie; Kim Van Dusen of The Parentologist; Jessica McDonald of The Healthy Mouse; Mindy Moser of Mommy Mouse Clubhouse; Vy Spear and Lisa Robertson of Babes in Disneyland; Jessica Sanders of The Happiest Blog on Earth; Maria Hoey of The OC Mom Collective; Hayley Free Bordes of Little Me and Free; Kathy Copcutt of Bel Aire Mommie; Erin Fairchild of Her Heartland Soul; Caryn Bailey of Rockin’ Mama; Elena Bosch of Elena B in the OC; Donna Biroczky of Dangerous Cupcake Lifestyle; Courtney Garza and Alora Middleton of VEGWORLD Magazine; Shell Feis of Not Quite Susie Homemaker; and Cleverly Changing’s Elle Cole.
The two recipes featured during the class are among 20 original dishes created by Marcus for “Now We’re (All) Cooking” and available at www.dole.com/Disney. Other assets and information available on this virtual page include DIY recipe videos, family-friendly activities and digital downloads designed to turn fans’ kitchens into a French café reminiscent of Gusteau’s restaurant in Disney and Pixar’s Ratatouille.
These free, downloadable resources range from DOLE® Banana Sticker Peel-and-Play collectors’ sheets to DIY menus and cookbooks, Dole and Disney placemats, a printable Dole chef’s hat, and DOLE® Pineapple gift tags.
About Dole Food Company, Inc.
Dole Food Company, Inc., is one of the world’s largest producers and marketers of high-quality fresh fruit and fresh vegetables. Dole is an industry leader in many of the products it sells, as well as in nutrition education and research. For more information, please visit www.dole.com.