Recipe Spotlight: Exclusive Interview with Delicious Tips for Family Cooking

The only full-time agriculture chef in the United States, Justin Timineri, sat down with us to talk about his favorite topic . . . food.  More specifically, Florida food and how to cook it in fun, simple, and delicious ways!  I asked him a little about his job, since his is the only one like it in the country.  He is the Executive Chef and Culinary Ambassador for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and he makes it his business to develop recipes with fresh Florida produce, as well as creating new ways to get consumers interested in using wholesome cooking techniques.  Timineri confesses, “I happen to have the best job in all of the state government!”

Also known as the Florida Chef around the world, part of his occupation requires him to travel to international destinations for cooking demonstrations.  At the end of July, he’ll be traveling to Johannesburg, South Africa to represent 14 states in the Southeast at Africa’s Big Seven Retail Agriculture and Processing Exhibition.  In August, he’ll be a judge at the 2010 Great American Seafood Cook-Off in New Orleans, Louisiana, to raise support for our Gulf seafood and aquaculture industries.

But this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to his wide range of responsibilities.  Timineri devotes much of his time to educating children about the joys of cooking as well.  As a matter of fact, one of the deepest rewards of his job is teaching Florida’s youth “the importance of eating responsibly. These life skills are invaluable when it comes to navigating the food world.  Knowing how to cook and understanding the growing seasons can really enhance your whole life.”  He creates a fun environment by getting the children involved: from shopping for the ingredients to preparation, he finds they enjoy eating it more when they actively participate in creating a meal.

This is only part of the advice he gives to parents.  The other piece of the puzzle to better eating habits is “learn how to cook. When we prepare foods ourselves as opposed to buying them pre-made,” he continues, “then we can have control. Portion size, cooking techniques, savvy food shopping, and understanding the food pyramid are some of the key factors to healthy eating practices.”

In today’s hustle and bustle society however, you may be thinking that cooking with fresh ingredients is easier said than done.  Timineri says, “The best recipes are usually the simplest ones.  With a wealth of fresh regionally harvested food items from Florida, there is no need to seek exotic ingredients from foreign lands.  Diet fads come and go, but you can never go wrong with fresh wholesome fruits and vegetables.”

That being said, Timineri has graciously shared a recent recipe creation that will have you and your kids creating, eating, and savoring every moment as well as every bite!  Enjoy this simple recipe and don’t hesitate to write or post at, and tell us about your cooking experience with fresh Florida ingredients!


Florida Fruit and Vegetable Sushi

For vegetable sushi

Sushi Rice, cooked and cooled (use recipe on package of rice)
Assorted raw Florida vegetables, cut into thin strips

Sushi wraps (seaweed or the new style colored soy wraps)

Pickled ginger

Low sodium soy sauce

Wasabi paste


For fruit sushi

Sushi Rice, cooked and cooled (use recipe on package of rice)
Assorted seasonal Florida fruits, peeled and cut into thin strips

Sushi wraps (colored soy wraps)

Desert sauces (chocolate sauce, caramel sauce and fruit puree)

Set the cooked rice aside. Place a sushi wrap on a bamboo sushi rolling mat. Evenly spread enough rice mixture, about 1 cup of it, over the sushi wrap, leaving a 2-inch edge at the top. Place the fruit or vegetable strips in the middle of the rice, making 1 neat row. Roll the mat, guiding the vegetables or fruit as needed. Squeeze mat to secure ingredients. Unroll the mat, and set aside while you roll more. When ready to slice, place on cutting board and using a very sharp slicing knife, cut into slices about 1 inch long. Garnish sushi rolls with extra fruit or vegetables and serve with desired dipping sauces.

To search for Florida retailers that carry produce, seafood, and plants, go to

For more information on the Florida Chef and fresh Florida ingredients visit these web sites: &



photo courtesy of FDACS

Accessibility Toolbar