We are excited to announce the hire of our new Executive Chef, Twinkle VanWinkle. Chef Twinkle will manage the Foundation’s after-school and school-break meal programs, serving more than 1,200 kid-friendly meals each week to food-insecure school children in Indianapolis. She will create and prepare menu items with petite palates in mind and collaborate on food-related curriculum for our hands-on lessons, aka Food Explorers Club.
“Cooking for people is how I show my love. It’s how I grew up,” says Chef Twinkle. “I’m so excited to share my love of real food with these kids and hopefully spark something in them that lasts their whole lives.”
Chef Twinkle grew up in a small, rural town in Mississippi and moved to Indianapolis in 2008. She has more than 24 years of professional cooking experience under her apron strings and is board chair for Slow Food Indy and member of Indy Women in Food.
She lives up to her name (and, yes, it’s her real name!) with a sparkly, positive disposition and an authentic love of community. We are so pleased to have her on board!
What’s the story behind your name?
Legend has it my mother wanted to name me Twinkle before she even met my dad, so it just had to be once she married a VanWinkle. I think it also has to do with being born in the early ’70s. My parents were a couple of free thinkers… and why not give their first born a name that rhymes?
What’s your favorite childhood memory surrounding food?
I grew up in a very rural area, so having a large garden was normal– we basically grew up in it. One of my favorite memories is picking peas and shelling them with my grandma in the late afternoons of summer.
You have kids of your own now– how do you get them to eat healthy food?
Mostly, I’ve always had the rule that you eat what I cook. That doesn’t work most of the time (ha!) but I try and stay as close to that rule as I can. Usually, after cooking all day, I like to throw together quick healthy meals, easy ones, that the kids will enjoy and challenge them to try new things.