I absolutely love shopping at Whole Foods Market.  To me, it combines the experience of shopping at a farmer’s market and your local neighborhood grocer.  Plus, I’ve had the pleasure of working with Whole Foods Market in my corporate career so I have first hand, behind-the-scene knowledge of their commitment to their food quality standards and sustainable practices.  

I was so excited when Scott Herbert, Marketing Team Leader of my local Whole Foods Market, agreed to participate in our Guest Sous Chef Series. The Guest Sous Chef Series was started to invite real chefs who share our passion of inspiring kids to cook and to share their favorite kid-friendly recipes.  Chef Sevilla Riley was the first chef to participate in the series.   This time, we had the opportunity to partner with Chef Jason Campbell who has been teaching cooking classes at Whole Foods Market for the past 12 years.  stepstoolchef_wholefoods_022415_03Chef Jason was trained at the Art Institute of Dallas with a degree in the culinary arts. He regularly teaches hands-on cooking classes at the Whole Foods Market on food and meal preparation ranging from vegetarian to French cuisine, knife skills, preparing sushi and more!  It was an honor to have him share his recipe for Italian Baked Tilapia Parmesan with Bruschetta topping and Basil Pesto Rice.  Plus, it was the first time my little chef had the opportunity to cook in a professional kitchen which he thought was the absolute coolest!

stepstoolchef_wholefoods_022415_09First, Chef Jason took the Step Stool Chef around the store to pick up the ingredients for their dish.  With the ingredient list in hand, Chef Jason shared how to pick out fresh produce and how to spot organic foods vs. conventional. Together they smelled fresh herbs, squeezed lemons and searched through specialty cheeses.


Part of being a great cook is using great ingredients.  Next time you go grocery shopping, bring along your little chef and teach them how to find quality ingredients.

Tilapia CollageWhile selecting the tilapia, we got a quick lesson on how to tell whether our seafood is wild caught or farm raised.  Our tilapia was Responsibly Farmed™ and caught in Ecuador.  

stepstoolchef_wholefoods_022415_25Chef Jason also gave a quick lesson about the various types of rice.  My little chef says he remembers most that rice has different colors as well as different stickiness when you cook it.

stepstoolchef_wholefoods_022415_05Now it was time to cook.  The ingredients included the freshest seafood, herbs and vegetables.  The Baked Tilapia included: 1 cup of organic italian breadcrumbs, 1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese, 1/2 cup of organic italian dressing, parsley, dill and salt & pepper (and tilapia of course).  

The Bruschetta topping included: 1 pint of cherry or grape tomatoes, 4 teaspoon of  lemon juice, 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, basil, and salt & pepper.  Finally, the Basil Pesto rice was so simple and genius at the same time… Basil pesto + cooked rice = yuumm-e!

stepstoolchef_wholefoods_022415_32To start the tilapia, began by chopping the dill and parsley….

stepstoolchef_wholefoods_022415_40…then adding it to the breadcrumbs in a deep plate or square dish.

stepstoolchef_wholefoods_022415_50In a dish, pour the italian dressing over the tilapia, then sprinkle on parmesan and the salt & pepper covering the fish evenly.  

stepstoolchef_fish02_022415Then roll fish in the breadcrumbs & herbs mixture.  Place the breaded fish on a lined sheet pan.

stepstoolchef_wholefoods_022415_53Chef Jason and the Step Stool Chef added a little more parmesan and breadcrumbs to make sure the fish was evenly covered then placed the pan in a pre-heated oven at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes.  The wonderful aroma coming from the oven was absolutely mouthwatering.  

stepstoolchef_wholefoods_022415_61While the fish was in the oven, start the bruschetta topping.  First, cut the tomatoes into quarters by cutting them in half then half again.  

stepstoolchef_wholefoods_022415_66Place the cut tomatoes in a bowl and squeeze the juice from a lemon in the bowl.  Then add chopped basil, olive oil, and salt & pepper to taste.  Place aside until fish is cooked.

stepstoolchef_wholefoods_022415_74Next, cook the rice according to the instructions.  Then mix the basil pesto with the rice.

Plating Collage2The food is now ready and its time to eat.  Chef Jason shared a fun and creative way to present the food.  For the fish, simply spoon the bruschetta topping over the tilapia.  For the rice, he tightly packed the rice in a small, fun shaped bowl.  Then he turned the bowl upside down on the plate.  Once he removed the bowl, it kept the shape of the bowl and looked very appetizing.  In fact, the meal was absolutely delicious!  My little chef said it was was one of his favorite dishes. 

stepstoolchef_meal_2chefs_smMy little chef had an absolute ball cooking with Chef Jason who was an excellent coach. I have to admit when Chef Jason shared what my little chef would be cooking, I was curious to see how his little hands would be able to pull of such a fancy sounding dish.  The reality was that he had so much fun and tackled it head on.  It was surprisingly easy and was a great reminder not to make assumptions too quickly about what kids can and can’t do.    

Thanks to Chef Jason, Scott Herbert and Whole Foods Market for your support!


 Note: This was not a sponsored post.  We’re just sharing our cool day!

Italian Baked Tilapia Parmesan with Bruschetta Topping and Basil Pesto Rice
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For the Italian Baked Tilapia Parmesan
  1. 3 fillets of tilapia
  2. 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  3. 2 tablespoons chopped parsley and dill (rough chopped)
  4. 1/2 cup Italian dressing
  5. salt & pepper to taste
For the Bruschetta Topping
  1. 1 pint of cherry or grape tomatoes (mixed colors if available)
  2. 1/2 bunch fresh basil (chopped)
  3. 3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  4. 4 teaspoons lemon juice
  5. Salt & pepper to taste
For Basil Pesto Rice
  1. 2 cups of cooked basmati rice
  2. 2 tablespoons of basil pesto
For the Italian Baked Tilapia Parmesan
  1. Finely chop the dill and parsley then stir together the breadcrumbs and herbs in a deep plate or square dish.
  2. In a dish pour the italian dressing over the tilapia and cover each piece of fish, sprinkle on parmesan covering the fish evenly.
  3. Roll the fish in the breadcrumb and herb mixture. Place the breaded fish evenly on a lined sheet pan.
  4. Bake until cooked through 12 to 15 minutes in a preheated oven at 350 degrees.
For the Bruschetta Topping
  1. Cut the tomatoes in quarters from stem to bottom
  2. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and use as a topping for the fish
For the Basil Pesto Rice
  1. Cook the rice according to the instructions
  2. Mix the basil pesto with the cooked rice until throughly mixed
Step Stool Chef https://www.stepstoolchef.com/

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  • Trackback from Best. Year. Ever: Our Annual(ish) Recap - Step Stool Chef
    Wednesday, 30 December, 2015

    […] recipes, tips and ideas.  Private Chef Sevilla Riley shared a recipe for Taco Buddies, Chef Jason Campbell of Whole Foods shared a recipe for Baked Tilapia that was so easy and delicious and Chef Bronwen Weber of […]

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About the Chef!

Chef Julian has had a love for cooking since the age of 3. Now as the CEO and Head Kid Chef of The Step Stool Chef, he is focused on empowering kids to be leaders in the kitchen. Chef Julian has been featured on the covers of magazines, newspapers as well as made guest appearances on all major TV networks, conferences and food festivals and is known for his fun & easy approach to cooking.

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