KCS executive chef hopes to cook up healthy, appetizing meals for students

In the past six months, Bearden’s cafeteria has spiced up its menu with a variety of nutritious gourmet selections. So what’s cooking? Or, more importantly, who’s cooking? As of this year, Knox County Schools executive chef Warren Davis. KSC Director of Nutrition Jon Dickl created Davis’s position in an effort to add healthy and homemade dishes to cafeteria menus. Davis works mostly out of Bearden High School, and 14 of Knox County’s schools have benefited from Davis’s culinary expertise so far. “I feel that my duty is to provide our community with wholesome meals through the cafeterias of our public schools to the best of my abilities,” Davis said. As executive chef, his responsibilities include not only new recipes, but also standardizing menu items, improving the quality of the food, and developing a set of skills to better enable KCS cafeteria employees. “I have limited influence on the menus, but have ideas that are being accepted and applied,” Davis said. Spinach Maria and Tuscan flatbread are a few of these new ideas that have been implemented. “You can taste the improvement in cafeteria food in the past year,” junior Trevor Corum said. “Whoever’s responsible is doing a great job.” In fact, Davis does have much experience in the food business. As a graduate of Johnson and Wales University with a culinary degree, his previous employers include Bistro by the Tracks, Bleu Hound Grille, Le Parigo, and Sysco foods. Davis is also part of the national Chef’s Move program. Chef’s Move is an incentive, run through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, for professional chefs to help schools incorporate healthier and more appetizing meal choices and help solve the problem of child obesity. “Chef’s Move is a worthwhile venture that Knox County Schools would get outside support from local chefs to help teach cooking techniques based on healthy lifestyles and eating,” Davis said. Future patrons of the Bearden cafeteria can look forward to seeing more of Davis’s influence on the menu as a part of the Chef’s Move initiative.