Chef serves up tips
on eating right
Albany -- Mike Russo stresses health in
traveling culinary program for children
By JAMES COLLINS, Staff writer
First published: Thursday, July 22, 2004
Summer camp was good to 8-year-old T.J. Lynch
First the directors decided to cut nap time short. Afterward, everyone
piled into the gym for bongo-and-guitar music...
...Russo is the host of "Cooking for Kids,"
a culinary road show that stopped Wednesday at the Albany Boys and
Girls Club on Delaware Avenue. Russo hopes to convert a nation full
of obese kids raised on McDonald's and Twinkies to a healthier lifestyle
without taking out the joy of cooking.
"You've got to eat anyway, so you might
as well make themost of it," said Russo, a Saratoga Springs
businessman who hopes to land a television show on the Food Network...
..."I like chicken barbecue, baked or crispy,
but I know some of the greasy stuff isn't good for you," said
Lynch, who lives in Albany.
Campers were also treated to personal pan pita
pizzas with a variety of healthy toppings and quesadillas prepared
on a George Foreman grill.
Russo and a crew of assistants discussed nutrition
information with audience members as they slaved over a hot grill.
"It's like an Emeril show times 10,"
Russo boasted, comparing "Cooking for Kids" with the program
hosted by chef Emeril Lagasse on Food Network.
Penny Holmes, director of the Boys and Girls
Clubs of Albany, said Russo might have the right recipe for getting
kids to eat better.
"The kids were obviously excited that the
cooking show was coming, but Mike's message is really important
for teaching these kids a healthy lifestyle," she said.
Russo typically travels around the country lining
up corporate sponsors, then brings along his own staff and traveling
kitchen to raise money for local children's charities.
On Wednesday, he donated his time and services
to the children.
Russo, who has worked in a variety of foodservice
jobs, hopes to sell some variation of his concept under the name,
"The Heat Is On," to the Food Network by the end of the
The roadshow is produced by Media 1 Communications,
a Clifton Park-based advertising and marketing firm.
"We're really hoping the charity fund-raising
component and anti-obesity message helps the thing take off,"
said Media 1's Gary Sears, who is the show's executive producer.
The roadshow will travel Aug. 3 to Las Vegas
and Aug. 25 to New York City.