Where we come from

Founded by former Noma head chef Dan Giusti, Brigaid started challenging the school food status quo by putting professional chefs into public schools to cook real, wholesome food from scratch. Brigaid’s model has always been fueled by the belief that every decision about the school dining experience should be made thoughtfully and with care. We’ve been able to execute this vision in New London, Connecticut, working with the foodservice team to replace their processed, heat and serve program with scratch-cooked meals prepared daily in each kitchen.

Brigaid partnered with New London Public Schools starting in 2016 as we launched our first pilot program. There are now five chefs in the district working with the original kitchen staff to execute a scratch-cooked menu. In our first year, we served over 800,000 meals!

Beyond the chef hiring and training process, Brigaid also assists in managing the program and has developed each menu and recipe used in the school district since the beginning of the partnership. The success of the New London pilot led New York City Public Schools to launch its own Brigaid program in the Bronx in the fall of 2018.

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What’s next

We have distilled everything that we have learned and implemented in New London and the Bronx into a standard, chef-led training program accompanied by a set of thorough resources. This training is for districts that want to expand their programs and empower their staff to serve the best food possible in every school.

The training process begins with a Brigaid Chef performing a preliminary, in depth analysis of the facilities and staffing of each school kitchen slated to participate. This assessment is done in order to ensure that everything is in place for a smooth transition to scratch cooking. Once a kitchen has been given the green light, one of our dedicated chefs will begin to work through the comprehensive training program, organizing the space, training each staff member, and providing the requisite resources for continued success. The chef trainer will remain at the school full time for the duration of the training. Upon the conclusion of the training, each school will be prepared to roll out a new menu of scratch-made recipes that have been Brigaid tested and student approved.

Although the approach has changed slightly, Brigaid’s founding principles have not. We still firmly believe that strict nutritional and budgetary guidelines should not limit quality. To lead the trainings, we are recruiting the next generation of professional chefs to work within these constraints, rethink what’s possible, and hopefully be inspired to continue moving this mission forward after their time with Brigaid. With a growing team that is learning every day along with our newfound direction, we hope to take Brigaid, and more importantly school food, to a whole new level.

What we’ve learned

Working hand in hand with school food service teams, administrators, and superintendents, it’s become clear that the success of our work is dependent upon seamless collaborations between Brigaid and our partner districts.

With that in mind, we have refined our model to empower the current district leaders to grow and develop their programs without a long term financial commitment to Brigaid. By sharing our continuously growing knowledge and experience, our team of chefs can provide school districts with the tools needed to run and maintain top tier school foodservice programs on their own.

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