Spotlight on Heather Barr: Our Chef

teacher spotlight heather barr.jpg

When you think about North Tampa Christian Academy, a Tampa private school, your mind likely fills with images of hands-on learning, naturally lit classrooms, and students working together to achieve their dreams. While these are all certainly a part of your child’s experience here, there’s more going on behind the scenes than meets the eye! It takes a village to keep our school running, and our staff is dedicated to making every day special. Today, we’d like to introduce you to Heather Barr, our wonderful chef.

Barr was born and raised right here in Tampa, and she’s always loved to cook.

“I grew up in a very strict household — my grandmother is actually Korean — so I grew up thinking you had to eat at home every night, and that it had to be something new,” said Barr. “We ate at home every single night.”

Her grandmother exposed her to delicious, exotic meals, and Barr developed a passion for constantly trying new food.

“My favorite food memory is that [my grandmother] would always pack me very strange things for lunch — like kimchi, fermented cabbage, or fish — really authentic food,” said Barr. “It was hard, because when I opened up that stuff at the table surrounded by kindergarteners, everyone thought it smelled and they didn’t want to sit with me!”

Barr believes that although many children are picky, the key is to simply get them to try new things. She’s dedicated “to [showing] kids that they don’t have to be picky! There are so many foods out there, and if you just try them, it will be great,” said Barr. By combining healthy, plant-based meals with delicious sauces and both new and familiar flavors, she hopes to create a school filled with adventurous eaters, where students are equipped to make healthy lifestyle choices.

As a child, Barr loved to watch not only her grandmother cook, but also the chefs on Food Network. While other kids were laughing along with Cartoon Network, Barr spent her days absorbed in the 30-minute magic of Rachael Ray.

“I really loved Rachel Ray because it was so simple, and it helped me just make time to cook — even if I’m really busy,” said Barr. “It’s really easy to go out and buy something, but it’s not necessarily good for your body.”

Barr is thrilled to be taking on the challenge of serving healthy, delicious food at North Tampa, and she is so excited to be working with children.

“It’s very different to be around young kids all day — they’re so innocent and honest and fun! If you’re having a bad day but a kid says something silly to you, it just changes your mood,” said Barr. “At first, I want to serve foods that they’re familiar with, but I’ll try to add new veggies and switch it up a little bit — slowly get them to try new things without really knowing it’s there. As the school year goes on, I’d like to try more.”

With Barr’s creative approach to cooking delicious, visually appealing, and healthy food, students can learn how to incorporate nutritious meals into their everyday lives.

At North Tampa Christian Academy, a Tampa private school, the faculty, staff, and families work as a team. Our service-oriented approach builds Christian leaders who think deeply, choose wisely, create beauty, and use their dreams to solve problems. Want to learn more about what makes us different? Contact us today.

Get to Know Heather Barr:

Q: What’s your favorite movie?
Mary Poppins! It’s the only movie I can watch on repeat.

Q: What do you do for fun?
I like to bake everything! I really like to find a new recipe and just try it out, kind of tweak it. I like baking cheesecakes because they’re the most challenging to me — they drive me crazy!

Q: What’s your kitchen gadget must-have?
A really sharp knife.

Q: What are your cooking essentials?
Don’t be afraid of garlic. It’s one of the biggest things — if you like it, it can change your recipe! You only need a little. And it doesn’t add any sodium or preservatives!  

Q: What tip would you give to seniors after they graduate to continue making healthy choices?
I would tell them to plan out what they’re going to eat every week. Plan it out and buy all the groceries in one day! It’ll definitely motivate you to cook the food if it’s sitting at your house.