A group of students in line to receive breakfast from a cafeteria worker

What comes to mind when you think of pears? Chances are, it’s not pear butter or pear-glazed beef yakisoba. But that’s precisely what O’Banion Middle School students had the opportunity to sample during a recent taste test event.

On March 19, GISD Student Nutrition Services (SNS) hosted its annual Healthy Kids Collaborative Event with the Culinary Institute of America (CIA). Each year, the CIA collaborates with Garland ISD and many other school districts to create dishes featuring one fruit or one vegetable to introduce new recipes and products to students. This year, the company partnered with Pacific Northwest Canned Pears, and GISD Executive Chef Kevin Jenkins was tasked with creating a breakfast and lunch recipe, including canned pears. 

Jenkins developed two standout recipes for this collaboration: Caramelized Pear Butter and Pear-Glazed Beef Yakisoba with Soy-Garlic Pears. Drawing from his time spent in Japan, Jenkins explained how he wanted to infuse the flavors of Japan with the freshness of Pacific Northwest pears. 

"I used to be stationed in Japan, and I'm a big fan of Japanese cuisine,” said Jenkins. “The beef Yakisoba is a dish I came across while living there. Soba is the Japanese word for noodles, and it's common to eat a lot of noodles there. I wanted to bring that unique flavor and flair here while incorporating the dish with the canned pears into the pear glaze.” 

Jenkins says his love for honey butter led him to experiment with the caramelized pear butter recipe. For breakfast, students sampled it with cinnamon toast or a honey butter chicken biscuit.

One key aspect of the event is getting student feedback about the recipes. Student Nutrition Services gathers feedback through surveys to gauge students’ preferences and determine each recipe’s success with the younger demographic. 

Jenkins expressed gratitude for the collaborative opportunities between Garland ISD and the CIA. While the pear dishes won’t become a permanent fixture on the GISD menu, Jenkins is excited to have the chance to introduce new foods and recipes to the students.

"Our partnership highlights the importance of culinary arts in educational settings," he reflected. "By fostering a culture of culinary creativity and exploration, we continue to enrich the lives and experiences of students."

Student Nutrition Services and the Culinary Institute of America will host another Healthy Kids Collaborative event during the 2024-2025 school year. 


Plated Pear-Glazed Beef Yakisoba with Soy Garlic Pears Dish
Pear-Glazed Beef Yakisoba with Soy Garlic Pears
Plated Cinnamon Toast and Chicken Sandwiches with Caramelized Pear Butter in the middle
Caramelized Pear Butter Served with Breakfast Options