Léman Prep’s Jenny Gensterblum thinks she has one of the best jobs in New York City’s Lower Manhattan. She is neither a bond trader nor a stock analyst.
She is a chef, and for the last seven years, she has been the chef of the Upper School of Léman Manhattan Preparatory School, an independent, globally-minded school located in the heart of Wall Street.
Trained at New York’s French Culinary Institute and a former restaurant and personal chef, the Clinton Hill resident is responsible for creating menus and feeding 240 students in grades 6-12, as well as 45 faculty members. Each week she plans breakfast and lunch Monday-Friday and oversees the staff that provides dinner and weekend meals for the school’s 65 boarding students.
Because of the many dietary restrictions of the students, Chef Jenny always includes dairy-free, gluten-free, vegetarian, and Halal options in every meal. All food must be nut and seed free, and every meal includes healthy choices such as yogurt, apple sauce, cottage cheese and fresh fruit. The cafeteria’s salad and sandwich bar offers 26 options. A consummate professional, Chef Jenny insists that all food be made from scratch, and uses organic ingredients and local products whenever possible.
Of course, Chef Jenny aims to provide delicious meals at all times, but more importantly, they must be healthy. “I am a firm believer that healthy foods can be delicious, and I want to share that knowledge with the students as often as I can,” she says. Proving that point is the popularity of her homemade roasted kale chips. “We can’t make enough of them – the kids just love them and they are a healthy option to French fries or potato chips.” Chef Jenny encourages the students to have fresh fruit for dessert every day but will include a sweet treat every other week.
Because she has been with the school for seven years, Chef Jenny knows what foods will resonate with the students and staff and doesn’t want anyone to feel left out because of an allergy or dietary restriction. She and her staff of two chefs are constantly trying out new flavors and dishes and she says the most popular dishes are made during International Week, when the menu features the foods of Vietnam and India, among other cultures.
Chef Jenny also teaches cooking classes after school for grades PreK-12, as well as a weeklong summer camp program for middle school students. As part of a school fundraiser in 2012, Chef Jenny and Léman Manhattan published Secret Sauce: Kid Tested and Approved Recipes. A sequel is currently in the works.
For more information about Léman Manhattan please visit: www.lemanmanhattan.org/