SWANSEA — In the first three episodes, Karen Thomas, the district chef for the Chartwells Swansea school lunch program, prepared a ham, a turkey meatloaf with barbecue sauce, a French toast bake, healthy snacks and more.

The new local cooking program, Cardinal Bistro, appears on Swansea Cable Access and online.

Next up: an Easter themed cooking episode.

“We’re having a ball,” Thomas said. “I’m not shy. I pull it off once it starts rolling.”

Thomas, owner of the former Karen’s Country Kitchen on Route 6 in Somerset, handles the culinary side of the school lunch program, making her the perfect candidate to blend her cooking and people skills into some fun, easy and creative dishes.

Thomas said the cooking videos, filmed by Cable Access at Joseph Case High School, are to “promote health and cooking” at home.

“There’s no need to go out, you can do this,” Thomas said.

Her healthy recipes typically take about 30 minutes. She said she uses all ingredients that can be found in local supermarkets.

The program often features guests, including culinary education students.

“It’s about bringing the family back together,” Thomas said. “That’s a big message I want to send.”

Gail Oliveira, director of the Chartwells Swansea School Lunch program and in that business for three decades, said being in the Swansea schools is “probably the most fun” she’s had. “We’re always trying to use our imagination.”

Herald News​