Celebrity chef Airis Johnson coming to Russellville to help students understand growing and preparing healthy foods

Posted on April 8, 2016 3:15 PM

Airis Johnson, a nationally recognized chef and food blogger, will visit several locations throughout Western Kentucky, April 25-May 1, 2016 in honor of Earth Day. Johnson’s visit is sponsored by the Russellville Urban Gardening Project Inc. (RUGP), Logan County Extension 4-H, Stevenson Elementary School, Kentucky State University (KSU), and Kentucky Humanities Council. 

RUGP (a youth centered urban gardening project located in Russellville) invites students from Stevenson Elementary School to its urban garden (located on East 5th Street) every year in celebration of Earth Day.  (Earth Day is an annual event, celebrated on April 22, in which events worldwide are held to demonstrate support for environmental protection. It was first celebrated in 1970, and is now coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network, and celebrated in more than 193 countries each year.)

This year students will make hourly visits to the garden on Thursday, April 21, where they will learn about cultivating vegetables in high tunnels, tour a KSU mobile food unit and learn about water conservation as a part of University of Kentucky’s Backyard Water Stream project. If it rains, the event will be held at Stevenson.

The following week, beginning April 25, Johnson will use food grown in the RUGP garden and other food purchased and donated by local farmers to conduct food demonstrations throughout Western Kentucky including the PTA at Stevenson Elementary School, the Logan County Public Library and Bank Street AME Zion Church.

Students from the Russellville High School Culinary Arts class will assist Johnson with the food demonstrations at Stevenson. 

The highlight of Johnson’s visit will be a public lecture and demonstration at the Logan County Public Library on Saturday, April 30, from noon until 2 p.m. Johnson and Dr. Nancy J. Dawson, director of the Russellville Urban Gardening Project Inc., will lecture on  African Americans and the Historical and Cultural Evolution of Soul Food in Kentucky.  The KSU mobile processing unit will be on the scene for a brief food demonstration. 

This event is sponsored in conjunction with Kentucky Humanities Council and is free and open to the public.

Johnson’s final appearance will be at 2 p.m., on Sunday, May 1,, at Bank Street AME Zion Church for  a Healthy Soul Food Cook-Off. An informal discussion on how to make your soul food favorites healthier will be conducted by Johnson and  Findy Samuels, Associate Pastor Walter Clements of AME Zion Church and a registered nurse. Members of Bank Street will prepare healthy soul food dishes. Chef Johnson will select the best dish and prizes will be awarded. 

In the past 14 years, Airie Johnson has worked in many genres of the food industry for greats like Danny Meyer (Shake Shake), Gordon Ramsay (Gordon Ramsay at the London, NYC), Sue Torres (Suenos) and Whole Foods Market. She is also featured in the April 2016 edition of Essence Magazine.


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