Chef David Binkle, adjunct instructor of culinary arts at College of the Canyons, is a man who wears many hats. Aside from his teaching duties, Binkle is a touring speaker, director of food services for the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) and member of the “Let’s Move!” campaign, an initiative to address childhood obesity led by First Lady Michelle Obama.
“I was very busy last year,” said Binkle, who moved to L.A. in 2007 when hired by LAUSD, whose $300 million food program provides 650,000 meals daily.
“We have been on a path for many years of trying to eliminate carnival food from our schools,” he said. By carnival food, Binkle is referring to traditional school food staples such as pizza, chicken nuggets, corn dogs and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. LAUSD menus now include more fresh foods and vegetables.
“L.A. is a big piece of the healthy transition,” he said. “Our kids are eating edamame. No kid in Indiana is doing that. We are trying to lead the nation.”
Last year, the Obama administration approved new school lunch nutrition guidelines to quell the rise of childhood obesity. These changes, paired with the efforts of the “Let’s Move!” campaign, appear to be making a difference.
“The campaign is going really well,” said Binkle, who went to the White House with a group of LAUSD students as part of the campaign. “It’s really making an impact. Obesity levels are declining.”
Artist’s rendering of the new, $6.7 million Culinary Arts Facility at College of the Canyons, which will house the Institute for Culinary Education.
Binkle loves to teach because it allows him to stay connected. “The most important thing is to give back and pass on knowledge. Cooking is such a historical trade. I’m interested in passing it on to future generations. Teaching also allows me to stay on top of trends and to stay focused. I really enjoy teaching at COC. The college has been very dear to me.”
Cindy Schwanke, culinary arts instructor and lead iCuE faculty member, said it’s an “absolute pleasure” to have David as part of the COC Culinary Arts program. “Our students gain invaluable knowledge and experience from him,” she said.
Binkle is especially excited about the state-of-the-art Institute for Culinary Education (iCuE), a 12,000-square-foot building that will become the program’s permanent home.
“It really is a sign of the times,” said Binkle. “The college is really listening and watching the trends. The Santa Clarita Valley provides a great deal of restaurant industry jobs. The connectivity of the program is really inspirational.”