When Jorge Leon Collazo apprenticed at the Helmsley-Palace Hotel in the late 1970s, he used to roast a turkey every day just in case owner Leona Helmsley might want a turkey club sandwich. Later, he prepared gourmet-quality meals for power lunchers as executive chef at one of New York City's most prestigious law firms, and then moved to Vermont where he taught at the New England Culinary Institute and served as chef-manager for an exclusive private academy.
Now, Collazo faces his biggest challenge. Recently named executive chef for the New York City Public Schools, he is charged with recipe and menu development, upgrading food presentations,working with manufacturersto improve nutritional standardsand facilitating staff trainingand professional development.
New York has some 1,500 schools and 1.1 million students. Its foodservice operation produces around 800,000 meals daily during the school year.