Recipes are tasty and healthy
Aziz Kobty wasn’t the healthiest eater when he was a student at Martin High School.
“Martin High School had two Chick-fil-A sandwiches for five bucks and I would destroy that thing,” Kobty said. “Then the chicken tenders and the pizza. I wouldn’t eat healthy at all. Why would I do that when they had some of my favorite foods right there?”
Kobty is no longer a student but is now a successful business owner of the popular Prince Lebanese Grill. At a recent Arlington ISD school board meeting, he was approached by Arlington ISD director of food and nutrition services David Lewis.
Lewis wanted to know if Kobty would be interested in being the first business to be part of the By Students 4 Students lunch program at the district’s secondary schools.
Kobty jumped at the chance.
“I’m hoping I can give them something different and fun that’s inspired by someone that was on the same path that they’re going through,” said Kobty, who went to Dunn Elementary and Young Junior High before Martin. “Maybe that would give them a reason to try and eat healthy recipes.”
The By Students 4 Students program debuted last year when the culinary students at Bowie High School created menu items that were featured at the school. Lewis wanted to expand the program to local businesses, and Prince Lebanese was a natural choice.
Getting from Kobty’s head to secondary campuses isn’t as easy as picking something off the Prince Lebanese menu and putting it in schools. All the ingredients must meet the district’s nutritional standards and must be available for the district to bid on, and the menu item must be able to be replicated in mass quantities at campuses for hungry teens to scarf down.
“It’s going to be different for me,” Kobty said. “I was very nervous when they told me there’s a salt limitation. I don’t want to do it wrong. I don’t know the restrictions. That was a little nerve-racking knowing I just can’t go cook. The processes are going to be super important. Consistency is going to be the key.”
That’s why he spent an afternoon in the district’s test kitchen, working with ingredients and trying to come up with the perfect item. Kobty experimented with several items before settling on a wings recipe that will include vegetables. He’s also working on a chicken and rice recipe. The wings recipe is now going through the ultimate taste test – district students.
The wings are expected to make their debut at secondary campuses in the fall, and Lewis is hopeful the chicken and rice recipe is something that can be used districtwide.
Kobty is already looking to the future.
“If I can make something that’s edible and nice and I can put my name on it, then I’d like to bring some friends in from the industry that are also Arlington grads and let them be a part of this program,” he said.