Tag Archives: Emme Ribeiro Collins

Local Celebrity Chef Fueling Our Children’s Engines With Great Food

by Lola E. Peters

Emme Ribeiro Collins and her family moved to Seattle from Brazil when she was only 6 years old, a first grader. Lunch is the main event of the day in Brazil, and school day lunches were prepared by her grandmother or mother. She remembers them as delicious, filling, and made from scratch. She remembers the care and tenderness put into those meals. 

It was with this memory she first entered the lunchroom at her new Seattle elementary school. Jarred into cultural dissonance by food she didn’t recognize and found unpalatable, served impersonally without any connection to her culture or health needs, she often chose to go without lunch. “Foods I found okay were things like spaghetti, which was homey and comforting … I often chose to go hungry at school and just ate at home.”

Now, in what she calls, “a full-circle moment that is super important to me,” the executive chef of Seattle Public Schools (SPS), and recent winner of the Sept. 10 episode of the cooking show Chopped, Collins is still amazed how poorly our culture feeds our children during their most physically and mentally vulnerable years. She and her boss Aaron Smith, director of Nutrition Services, are teaming together to reimagine how to serve this youthful clientele.

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