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MSJC Culinary Arts Instructor Serves Up Food and Fun with a Focus on Regenerative Practices


There's more to Leah Di Bernardo's culinary arts class at Mt. San Jacinto College (MSJC) than lectures, reading and recipes. Di Bernardo serves up lessons about what farm-to-table means for people and the planet. 

To close the Spring semester, Di Bernardo took her class to Perennial Pastures in Santa Ysabel located in San Diego County for hands-on education in regenerative practices, what "grass fed" on a label really means, and how delicious a meal becomes when prepared with locally sourced foods. The students hiked the sprawling ranch, observed the cattle and grazing practices and sat at tables under the beautiful towering oaks for a delicious farm-to-table beef stew, arugula salad, and homemade bread. 

Student Rebecca Stewart-Wilson, of Menifee, said the visit to Perennial Pastures showed her the importance of proper feeding, grazing and care of the animals and the health benefits of food grown from using regenerative farming practices.

"Individuals who are trying to stay in a healthy body are interested in knowing what's going into their body," Stewart-Wilson said. "It's good to know and makes us wiser in choosing what we eat." 

Di Bernardo, founder and Chef of Extraordinary Artisan Table, or EAT Marketplace, in Temecula, was named this year's Citizen of the Year by the Temecula Valley Chamber of Commerce. She received the honor during a ceremony on March 27, 2023. Her farm-to-table eatery serves up delicious meals with a "food as medicine" focus. 

As part of her instruction through MSJC's Adult Education program, Di Bernardo teaches whole systems theory and agile food systems. Whole systems theory is an approach to creating long-term sustainability and profitability that considers issues like reducing greenhouse gases and protection of water quality and habitats. The agile food systems approach focuses on creating flexible and sustainable food systems that can withstand disruptions.  

Di Bernardo, a champion of good food education in the Temecula Valley, is eager to develop whole systems concepts further at MSJC. She is a key member of an MSJC advisory group that is currently in development on a Regenerative Agriculture program at the college. Collaborating with other MSJC instructors and the MSJC Foundation, the advisory group is exploring an interdisciplinary program that would bring together studies that include environmental sciences, culinary arts, and business.

Mt. San Jacinto College, a California Community College, serves 25,000 students annually in a district covering 1,700 square miles from the San Gorgonio Pass to Temecula. Please follow MSJC on social media – Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  

Leah Di Bernardo

Leah Di Bernardo, instructor for Mt. San Jacinto College's culinary class and chef at EAT Marketplace in Temecula,  is a key member of an MSJC advisory group that is currently in development on a Regenerative Agriculture program to be offered at the college. 

homecooked meal prepared by Perennial Pastures

Students in Mt. San Jacinto College's culinary class were treated to a homecooked meal prepared by Perennial Pastures awaited students from Mt. San Jacinto College's culinary class. The meal featured grass-fed beef from the ranch, arugula salad and homemade bread. 

Leah Di Bernardo at Perennial Pastures

Leah Di Bernardo, Mt. San Jacinto College culinary arts instructor and chef at EAT Marketplace in Temecula, talks to students in her class about the importance of regenerative agriculture practices and the relationship to healthy foods.