Congratulations to the Student Chefs of Santa Ana, California!

May 23, 2012 | Written By:

Cooking up Change national champs (L-R) Alex, Ashley and Ivan from Santa Ana, Calif.

Congratulations to high school culinary students Alex, Ashley and Ivan of Santa Ana, Calif., who are taking home the Cooking up Change trophy for their healthy school lunch of lemon and spinach chicken with Tuscan bean salad and cinnamon poached pears. The team won top honors after facing off against talented high school culinary students from Chicago, Denver, Jacksonville, St. Louis and Winston-Salem.

“We want to change the way our country serves food in schools,” said Santa Ana student chef Alex. “We want to make a change and that’s why we made this delicious lunch.”

Cooking up Change is a cooking competition that challenges teams of high school students to create a healthy, great-tasting school meal that meets high nutrition standards, draws from ingredients commonly available to food service, and can be easily prepared in a school kitchen. It spotlights the remarkable talents of culinary students across the country competing to create a healthy school lunch with affordable ingredients, comparable challenges faced by school food service directors.

(L-R) Rochelle Davis, HSC President and CEO; Rob Rogers, Chair, HSC Board of Directors; Santa Ana chef instructor Monica Stewart-Aguilar and student chefs Alex and Ashley; Margie Saidel RD, Vice President of Nutrition and Sustainability for Chartwells School Dining Services, Platinum Sponsor; Santa Ana student chef Ivan and team chaperone Larry Mireles; Kelly Dettmann, Vice Chair, HSC Board of Directors; and Ernie Sanders, Secretary, HSC Board of Directors

“We are extremely proud of the students who competed in Cooking up Change and are lending their voices to the national discussion on school food,” said Rochelle Davis, president and CEO of Healthy Schools Campaign. “These students are speaking up to make healthy and appealing meals like the ones they have created the norm in our nation’s schools.”

The contest brings student voices to the national dialogue about school food.

Yesterday, one dish from each team's meal was served at a briefing for Congress on the future of school food. The dishes are also being served for lunch in the Longworth cafeteria, which serves Congressional leaders and their staff. The students spoke at the briefing to share their experience in Cooking up Change and their perspective on the importance of healthy school food.

The competition took place on Monday, May 21 at the U.S. Department of Education in Washington, D.C. The winner was announced at an award reception where guests sampled each team’s award-winning meal.

Chicago student chefs Shaenice, Kaliah, and Jerome won honorable mention for outstanding presentation with their oven-fried chicken, sweet potato salad and collard greens and cabbage.

Karen Duncan, wife of Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Christie Vilsack, wife of Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, served as Cooking up Change Honorary National co-chairs. Karen Duncan also served as a judge for the contest and spoke at the briefing.

“I completely admire that these students have found such passion, creativity and vision for making good food,” said  Karen Duncan. “I am happy to be working with these students in Cooking up Change to help make their vision for school food a reality in their schools and in schools across the nation.”

Kudos to Santa Ana and to all the culinary students! Special thanks to the chefs and school food leaders on the judging panel who gave their time and talent to the challenging task of determining the winner among the outstanding entries.


Student chefs Alex, Ashley and Ivan before speaking at a briefing for Congress on the future of school food

Many thanks to the generous sponsors for Cooking up Change! The Cooking up Change National Healthy Cooking Contest is generously sponsored by Platinum Sponsor Chartwells School Dining Services; Silver Sponsors American Federation of Teachers, and T-Fal; Official Travel Partner Southwest Airlines; and Official Culinary Partner James Beard Foundation. The contest is hosted by the United States Department of Education. Special thanks to Hooray Purée, whose contribution supports the students’ stay in Washington, DC for the contest.

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