TAFB Launches First-Ever YouTube Cooking Show

Plates with a Purpose,” the first cooking show in the nation developed by a food bank, is set to launch on YouTube on Friday, July 20, 2018. The new series will feature Tarrant Area Food Bank’s executive chef Manuel Vasquez (known as Chef Manny) preparing delectable dishes like apple raisin bread pudding, pan-seared scallops in mango salsa, sweet chili-infused hamburgers and more.

The new series was created by Anita Foster, Tarrant Area Food Bank’s communications leader, and shot and edited by Dan Halyburton, videography volunteer. “People ask us all the time why we have an executive chef at a food bank,” said Foster. “Tarrant Area Food Bank has a 16-week free culinary training program where we train 36 new chefs each year. Because of that, we have an incredibly well-trained executive chef. We want to share his tips and tricks with the public to help us all become better home cooks.”

On “Plates with a Purpose,” Chef Manny demonstrates how seemingly difficult dishes like roasted rack of lamb are surprisingly easy. He also teaches viewers how to scald, temper and sauté like an expert. In the first episode, Chef Manny will take all of the mystery out of preparing a seasoned and buttered whole roasted chicken that comes out juicy every time.

Chef Manny is a Fort Worth native who received his culinary degree from The Art Institute of Atlanta. He spent ten years working in well-known independent restaurants in Atlanta before moving back to Fort Worth ten years ago to take a position at Vidalia’s located at the Renaissance Worthington Hotel. “While I was working at the Worthington, another chef mentioned that I should consider taking a chef position at Tarrant Area Food Bank,” said Vasquez. “Like so many other people, the first thing I asked was why a food bank had a chef!”

Vasquez interviewed for the position and landed the job nearly nine years ago. “It’s an honor to be able to teach aspiring chefs skills that land them jobs in places like Button’s Restaurant with Chef Keith Hicks, the Omni Hotel, the Ashton Depot and so many other great restaurants. Through Plates with a Purpose, I hope to inspire even more people to grow their passion for cooking.”

On top of training culinary students, Chef Manny and his team source recipes from donated food ingredients and turn them into flash-frozen meals that get distributed to hungry people each week. “We didn’t have a budget for this project, but we had an industrial kitchen with an amazing chef and Dan Halyburton who volunteers to shoot and edit each of our episodes,” said Foster. “We’ve shot 13 episodes so far and we’re looking forward to producing even more to help people become better cooks.”

“Plates with a Purpose” will air each Friday on Tarrant Area Food Bank’s YouTube page.