Did you eat school meals as a child? What was your favorite?

Originally from Jamaica, I migrated to the U.S. at age 14 and started high school in Houston, where I ate school meals. My favorite lunch menu items were the Footlong Hotdog with Chili and Cheese Fries, Yeast Rolls and Chicken Fried Steak served with mashed potatoes. Yummy!

Please share a little of your K-12 school nutrition journey.

I started out in the retail industry, but it only took a few months to realize it was not for me. I love being around food, cooking and seeing others eat and enjoy a good meal. After working in Banquets and Catering at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis, Tenn., I moved back to Houston in 2000 and joined Houston ISD as its first Café Manager. I fell in love with K-12 foodservice and have been going strong for 24 years—living my best life!

What is your personal approach to trying new foods?

I’m very adventurous when it comes to food and enjoy trying different menu items from all over. Food is a great way to learn about other cultures.

What is your favorite global cuisine and why?

I still love to eat Jamaican, of course! Apart from that cuisine, I really enjoy Asian foods. There is such a wide variety of dishes to experience, and the taste is always amazing.

Is there a food you hated as a child but have come to love as an adult?

Like many kids, I was not a fan of leafy greens, but today I eat spinach and kale.

What was the strangest food you have tried?

It was actually spaghetti with meat sauce—the first meal I had when I arrived in this country from Jamaica. I did not like it!  We never ate that type of food back home.

Name three foods you could happily subsist on if marooned with a lifetime supply.

Mangos, chicken wings and rice. I’d also have to add seafood, especially crabs, shrimp and red snapper.

What is your favorite meal to cook?

I love to steam fish and serve it with okra and other vegetables. Curry chicken with rice is another favorite I cook for myself and those I love.

What is your favorite meal when eating out?

I love crawfish when it’s in season. It’s just amazing. Otherwise, I will order seafood gumbo with a salad, fried fish or some good jerk chicken.

What’s your favorite meal of the day and why?

Dinner, because it’s a more relaxing time of day. I can sit, indulge and really enjoy the flavors of the meal.

What celebrities or historical figures would top your dinner party guest list?

Country music superstar Tim McGraw and award-winning actress Regina King.

Carol Chin

Carol Chin

Nutrition Services Operations Manager

Houston, Texas

Houston Independent School District