The lunchbox chef

Reporter: Rodney Lohse

Feeding and coming up with interesting and healthy choices for hungry students can be a constant chore for parents.

Laurent Vancam has worked in some of the world's finest hotels cooked personally for the likes of Sir Paul McCartney but 10 years ago he turned his back on the stars for a far more important job of all things running a school tuckshop."It is very serious and it's very important to do it," he said "You've got to really make it healthy as much as you can."

Now he is out of the canteen and trying to make a change in our kitchens and in particular in kids' lunch boxes. I don't think it's good enough sometimes," he said. "The variety of foods in the lunch box is so important." He said it is about the flavours you add and his tip for fussy eaters is to ease them into it. Chef Laurent's main tip is to avoid any pre-packaged food like muesli bars because they are expensive. "You follow my recipes and you make your kids very smarter, I promise you," he said.

For more information on Chef Laurent's book, visit

www.cheflaurent.com.au

Chef Laurent's recipes

Pasta salad

Cost : $1.05 per serve

Serving Size: 750 ml salad box

What's in it:

Fusilli Pasta (100g serves 4) (250g serves 10)

Cucumber, chopped (250g serves 4) (500g serves 10)

Tomatoes, diced (200g serves 4) (500g serves 10)

Pesto (40g serves 4) (100g serves 10)

Aioli Dressing (40g serves 4) (100g serves 10)

Pitted black olives (40g serves 4) (100g serves 10)

Fetta Cheese, chopped (40g serves 4) (100g serves 10)

Poached chicken breast, chopped (80g serves 4) (200g serves 10)

How to make it:

1. Cook pasta as per packet instructions. Allow to cool.

2. When pasta is cold, mix with the remaining ingredients in a large bowl.

3. Evenly dish out to individual salad containers or serving bowl for a buffet.

Teriyaki chicken sushi

Cost: $0.85 per serve

Serving Size: 1 roll cut into 8 pieces

What's in it:

Sushi Rice (200g serves 4) (500g serves 10)

Vinegar (20mL serves 4) (50mL serves 10)

Salt (to taste)

Carrots, peeled (20g serves 4) (50g serves 10)

Cucumber (20g serves 4) (50g serves 10)

Poached chicken breast, chopped (80g serves 4) (200g serves 10)

Barbecue sauce (20g serves 4) (50g serves 10)

Soy sauces (10g serves 4) (20g serves 10)

Aioli salad dressing or mayonnaise (4 tsp serves 4) (10 tsp serves 10)

Nori seaweed sheets (4 serves 4) (10 serves 10)

How to make it:

1. Cook rice as per packet instructions with vinegar and salt. Set aside to cool.

2. Cut carrot and cucumber into long thin strips, approximately 7 cm long.

3. Mix chicken, barbecue sauce and soy sauce together.

4. When rice is cold, place seaweed sheet on sushi mat, then spread rice on the top half of the sheet, leaving a 2 cm gap at the top. Press down firmly. Lay the carrot and cucumber strips and chicken across the middle of the rice. Then, squeeze some aioli across.

5. Wet the far end of the seaweed sheet with water. Then, using the sushi mat end closest to you, roll forward, pressing firmly, wrapping the seaweed sheet around the rice and filling until it becomes a long roll. Repeat process with remaining seaweed sheets and ingredients.

6. When the rolls are made, remove the sushi mat and, with a sharp knife and wet cloth, cut the rolls in half, then quarters and then in eight equal pieces. Wipe the knife clean between each cut. Place into containers and serve cold with soy sauce.

Tandoori chicken wrap

Cost: $2.00 per wrap

What's in it:

Tandoori Paste (40g = 4 wraps) (100g = 10 wraps)

Plain yoghurt or light sour cream (40g = 4 wraps) (100g = 10 wraps)

Poached chicken breast, chopped (400g = 4 wraps) (1 kg = 10 wraps)

Zucchini, shredded (100g = 4 wraps) (250g = 10 wraps)

Mozzarella cheese, shredded (100g = 4 wraps) (250g = 10 wraps)

Tasty cheese, shredded (100g = 4 wraps) (250g = 10 wraps)

Coriander (1/8 bunch = 4wraps) (1/4 bunch = 10 wraps)

Mint (1/8 bunch = 4wraps) (1/4 bunch = 10 wraps)

Baby spinach leaves (60g = 4 wraps) (150g = 10 wraps)

Tortilla wraps (4 = 4wraps) (10 = 10 wraps)

How to make it:

1. In a large bowl, mix together tandoori paste and yoghurt or sour cream.

2. Mix chicken, tandoori mixture, zucchini, cheeses and herbs together.

3. Lay out the wraps and put the spinach and chicken mixture down one end. Roll the wraps tightly.

4. Toast in a hot press until golden. Wrap in paper and serve warm.

Chicken caesar salad

Cost: $1.00 a serve

Serving Size: 750 mL salad box

What's in it:

Cos lettuce, roughly chopped (500g/1 cos serves 6) (1kg/2 cos serves 12)

Canola or olive oil (30g serves 6) (60g serves 12)

Parmesan cheese, shredded or fine (60g serves 6) (120g serves 12)

Boiled eggs (3 eggs serves 6) (6 eggs serves 12)

Poached chicken breast, chopped (200g serves 6) (400g serves 12)

Cooked bacon (100g serves 6) (200g serves 12)

Croutons (100g serves 6) (200g serves 12)

Aioli dressing or mayonnaise (100g serves 6) (200g serves 12)

How to make it:

1. Mix the lettuce, oil and Parmesan cheese in a big bowl. Divide mixture evenly into individual salad containers, or serving bowl for a buffet.

2. Cut cooked and peeled eggs into quarters. Place two eggs quarters in each salad container. Evenly dish the chicken, bacon and croutons on top of the salad.

3. Drizzle aioli dressing over the top.

How to make the croutons:

1. Cut small cubes of fresh or stale bread and allow to dry outside or in the oven.

2. Put the dried bread pieces in a big bowl, drizzle with oil and salt.

3. Place in a moderate oven until brown, or fry in a pan.

4. Allow to cool. Store in an airtight plastic container. Can be stored up to 3 months.

Chicken pesto wrap

Cost: $1.90 per wrap

What's in it:

Basil (1/2 bunch = 10 wraps) (1 bunch = 20 wraps)

Parsley (1/2 bunch = 10 wraps) (1 bunch = 20 wraps)

Minced garlic (1 tsp = 10 wraps) (2 tsp = 20 wraps)

Parmesan cheese (25g = 10 wraps) (50g = 20 wraps)

Oil (50mL = 10 wraps) (20mL = 20 wraps)

Salt (to taste)

Poached chicken breast, chopped (500g = 10 wraps) (1kg = 20 wraps)

Zucchini, shredded (250g = 10 wraps) (500g = 20 wraps)

Mozzarella cheese, shredded (250g = 10 wraps) (500g = 20 wraps)

Tasty cheese, shredded (250g = 10 wraps) (500g = 20 wraps)

Baby Spinach leaves (150g = 10 wraps) (300g = 20 wraps)

Tortilla wraps � approx 25cm in width (10 wraps = 10 wraps) (20 wraps = 20 wraps)

How to make it:

1. To make the pesto, blend together the basil, parsley, garlic, parmesan cheese, oil and salt.

2. Mix chicken, pesto, zucchini and cheeses together.

3. Lay out the wraps and put the spinach and chicken mixture down one end. Roll the wraps tightly.

4. Toast in hot press until golden. Wrap in paper and serve warm.