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Chef says outsourcing is affordable

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By Jane Dornbusch
Globe Correspondent / September 1, 2010

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Outsourcing lunch is a hot-button topic in schools. But few have gone as far as a handful of North Shore private schools that have contracted with Dom’s Trattoria in Beverly Farms to offer restaurant-quality food to their students. Chef and owner Angela Dominick prepares child-friendly meals for Glen Urquhart, Waring School, Cape Ann Waldorf School, Stoneridge Montessori, and Harbor Light Montessori.

These institutions lack on-site kitchen facilities (fewer than half of Boston public schools have full kitchens). Most public schools that have no kitchens bring in food from a commissary or outside contractor. In that sense the situation is no different from the schools Dominick serves, except that she’s using whole-grain products, cutting sugar and sodium, and adding fiber and fresh vegetables.

She offers the lunchroom staple American chop suey, jazzing it up with purple cauliflower. Her mac and cheese also leans on cauliflower, pureed in the creamy cheese sauce. Whole grains rule, and garden salads with tuna or grilled chicken are always an option. Parents or students go online at the beginning of each week and place their orders on Dominick’s website.

The chef makes stock from scratch and uses no frozen products. She thinks her model can work for public schools, too, and says she would “be more than willing to work with a public school department.’’ And, she says, “I can do it for about the same price kids would pay for lunch in public school.’’

Certainly, much of what Dominick does could work in any lunchroom. But her menu prices for a hot meal range up to $5, while a hot meal at Beverly High School is $2.75. In order for Dominick to meet public school prices, she would have to retool her menu.

She says, however, it’s more about will than economics: “I truly believe that all it really takes is just a little bit of extra effort.’’