A Greek Feast Wins Cooking Up Change Jacksonville

April 24, 2015

“I’m going to Disney World” is a phrase often uttered after a big win, but for a few student chefs from Jacksonville, Fla., their big win came after a trip to Disney World’s Epcot International Food & Wine Festival where student chef Alyssa M. tried a chicken gyro and thought that it would make a perfect recipe for Cooking up Change, Healthy Schools Campaign’s cooking competition that challenges student chefs to create school meals, following strict nutritional and budgetary requirements, that their peers would enjoy.

On March 31, five culinary teams from three schools competed in the fifth annual Jacksonville contest sponsored locally by Chartwells-Thompson Hospitality. Hali H., Alyssa M. and Bradley P. from Frank H. Peterson Academy won with their Greek feast of Chicken Gyro with Tzatziki Sauce, Greek Cucumber Salad and Citrus Parfait.

The Cooking up Change competition not only serves as a way for student chefs to create meals that appeal to their peers but also to show that school meals can be healthy, delicious and meet the requirements. “Cooking healthy food is not as hard as people might think, but it is pretty difficult, especially when you have to stick to an ingredient list,” Alyssa M. said. “It’s a challenge, and I like it. When you’re able to make a recipe that’s healthy and also tastes good, it just makes me excited.”

Because the teams are only allowed to use 10 ingredients for the main dish and side dish, picking ingredients that provide a lot of flavor was important, said Bradley P. The team ultimately chose green bell peppers, granulated garlic and cilantro to give their gyro a kick.

The winning Jacksonville team will spend the next few months fine-tuning their preparation and presentation before going up against other winning teams from across the country in June at the Cooking up Change National Finals in Washington, D.C.

Congratulations to the Frank H. Peterson Academy team — and all the Jacksonville student chefs — for proving that school meals can be healthy and delicious!

Here are the other four teams that competed in Jacksonville:

Frank H. Peterson Academies of Technology
Team: Summer C., Kat K. and Sabryn R.
Menu: Bean Quesadilla, Corn Salad and Fruit Salsa

Terry Parker High School
Team: Ivan H., Autumn H. and Brenden K.
Menu: Cheesy Spinach Flatizza, Mozzato and Appilicious Surprise
Terry Parker High School
Team: Hiawatha H., Voniqua M. and Chrysten P.
Menu: Spicy Bleu Cheese Sliders, Garlic Cheddar Mashed Potatoes and Frozen Banana Yogurt Tart

Raines High School
Team: Jenise A., Kourtney H. and Korte M.
Menu: Chicken Satay Roll-ups, Fruit Salsa and Peachy Keen Salad