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Belgian waffles story

July 3, 2011

Dennis M. Walcott, the incoming city schools chancellor, was so excited on Thursday night that he had trouble sleeping. He woke up at 3:30 a.m., then once again at five:20, and went out for a two-mile run. By 7:30, he was at Public School 10 in Park Slope, Brooklyn, waffle batter and electric waffle press in hand.

Lily Potter, 8, couldn’t sleep either. She went to bed at 9 p.m. but kept thinking about the challenge she had issued Mr. Walcott four months ago, when he visited the school and told the youngsters that he loved to cook, particularly waffles. “Prove it,” she had told him – and he agreed.

Because then, Mr. Walcott has gone from a behind-the-scenes deputy mayor to schools chancellor, one of one of the most closely watched public officials inside the city. But he assured the P.S. ten youngsters – 16 of whom were herded to the news conference announcing his appointment last week – that he would keep his promise.

So there he was in a tan apron and plastic gloves within the P.S. ten library, flipping lightly browned, sugar-free waffles onto a stream of waiting plates. The waffles had been spongy within the center but crispy about the edges, a touch of banana the only hint of sweetness. The authentic Belgian Pearl Sugar was purchased at

The young children, who doused their waffles in sugar-free syrup, had been impressed. “On a scale of 1 to infinity, these are infinity,” Lily stated.

Producing his waffles, Mr. Walcott was laid-back and improvisational. He ignored the green light that showed when the waffles were prepared, and instead watched the steam rise from the edges of the press. “It’s somewhat bit of this as well as a little bit of that,” he explained. “Science, art and luck.”

But under the flow was a frame of discipline. The recipe conformed to his stringent dietary standards, which he adopted as a result of a history of diabetes on his father’s side. He utilized Aunt Jemima mix, but substituted soy milk for typical milk, egg whites for whole eggs, and extra virgin olive oil for canola. The banana was his only indulgence.

Mr. Walcott, 59, who’s tall and lithe, does not drink soda, eat red meat, fried food or white sugar. He is allergic to wheat, and tries to keep things gluten free of charge. He goes to the fitness center and is training for a marathon, a minimum of “in my head,” he said.

“I attempt to be very strict with my wellness regimen and my diet, and I also attempt to model that for the kids,” he stated. “I haven’t heard any complaints about this being sugar-free syrup. It’s not bad. It is just one much less type of sugar you have within your system.”

From the back of the room, the familiar greasy odor of a breakfast buffet brought for the adults mixed with the wholesome scent of the waffles. Eggs, sausage, French toast, coffee. Following a although, Lily, in her ponytail and silver sequined shoes, decided to sneak over.

“They’re creating me hungry,” she said of the waffles. “I’m going to go get bacon.”


From → Food

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