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Palm Beach County chef honors teachers with contest and new dish

Longtime teacher helps create new meal
Posted at 11:15 AM, Sep 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-08 16:43:08-04

TEQUESTA, Fla. — A combination of a love of learning and a love of cooking. A local chef and restaurant owner, Erik Petterson of EVO Italian, created a social media contest where people nominated impactful teachers in the community. His team picked a teacher and the end result, a dish on the menu named in her honor.

Tricia Gerard, the contest winner, is a teacher of 28 years. She teaches at Emerald Cove Middle School in Wellington and also before and after school at iReadingTUTOR.

“I teach children with autism and students with dyslexia and do it because I love seeing the transformation of students from non-readers to readers, and how it changes the trajectory of their life when they are literate,” she said.

Chef Petterson said throughout the pandemic, he delivered meals to frontline workers, but he said he always felt like one group, teachers, was forgotten when schools shut down.

“We have to give back to the teachers,” he said. “They are literally they are in charge of our future. I don’t think people get the most credit as a frontline worker are teachers, so we have been waiting for an opportunity.”

The opportunity to give back came via social media. People nominated amazing, local teachers and Pettersen and staff picked a winner.

“We have to give back,” he said. “You can’t just keep taking. So this COVID year has taught me that.”

Pettersen and Gerard worked together to create a health dish, “Tricia’s fish dish,” which is now on the menu.

The longtime educator said she keeps coming back to teach year after year because she loves to see kids grow. Gerard also gave advice for the year 2021.

She said focus on what’s important: “Your family. Keep learning. Keep trying and achieving. We are going to face obstacles but we can make it through. We can keep progressing. It’s important we keep trying. Persevere. There is hope we can get through this.”

The hope is that you try the dish and start thinking about all the teachers who have impacted your children during this pandemic.

“It’s like paying homage to our teachers RIGHT? If you order it, acknowledge it, share it,” said Pettersen.