Mindful Eating with Chef Mike Flynn

Dining at Hyde School’s Bath, Maine campus is undergoing a transformation. After 46 years of service, beloved Chef John Brawn retired at the end of June leaving some very big shoes to fill. Stepping in to take over the helm is Chef Mike Flynn.

Chef Flynn brings with him 30 years of experience, having trained in fine dining in Maine, Texas, California, and Japan. He declares that vegetarian sushi is one of his favorite foods both to eat and prepare. His food philosophy can be summed up in the phrase, “mindful eating.” He creates meals using ingredients that provide the highest nutrient values and is dedicated to working with youth to help them develop their palates to appreciate and prefer healthy food.

Over the past 15 years Chef Flynn has been focused primarily on the nutritional requirements and tastes of students Pre-K through 12th grade. For three years he was the director of food services in the public school district MSAD #11 in Gardiner, Maine where he provided students healthy food choices and “tasting practice.” “Taste preference can be developed over time,” Mike says, “and it is possible for students to change their food preferences toward healthier options that satisfy and make them feel good.” Some of the work he did with the students involved teaching them about flavor and texture profiles of foods. For example, one student had little interest in the flavor and texture of vegetables. Mike provided a lesson asking whether the student preferred blanched or raw, and the student was able to explore vegetables with a more mindful approach. He said students frequently have changed their perspective and acceptance of the foods explored in these lessons.

His goal at Hyde is to provide healthy and nutrient-rich menu options, one ingredient at a time. When asked about how that will play out from an economic point of view, he said there are ways to make cost effective changes, such as using less expensive dried beans and soaking them overnight versus using canned beans. He is looking for ways to increase foods containing omega-3 and decrease those with high amounts of omega-6. His favorite ingredient is quinoa, the grain that provides a complete protein. Rice normally needs to be consumed with beans to create a complete protein food, but quinoa is unique in this effect, which is why it is characterized as a “super-food.” Mike even rolls his vegetarian sushi with half quinoa and half brown rice.

An active participant in the healthy food movement, Mike is currently reading The Disease Delusion by Dr. Jeffery S. Bland and subscribes to John Robbins’ (author of No Happy Cows) food revolution emails. A resident of West Gardiner, Maine, where he lives with his wife and children, he has led workshops on practical whole foods for the Maine Nutrition Council, developed lesson plans for the Chefs Move to Schools/Classrooms initiatives, and provides support for public school districts in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont along with partnering with the Kennebec Local Food Initiative (KLFI).

The Hyde community is very happy to welcome this multi-talented chef to our campus.