Cooking up Change Chicago is Just Around the Corner!

September 26, 2013

A new season of Cooking up Change begins!

All across Chicago, high school students are brainstorming healthy, delicious school lunches — and soon they’ll be donning chef uniforms, too. Just six weeks from now, on November 7th, teams of Chicago Public Schools (CPS) culinary students will serve up their visions for healthy school food at the Cooking up Change contest.

Cooking up Change is a dynamic culinary competition that puts student voices front-and-center in the national dialogue about school food. With limited ingredients, tight deadlines and real-life constraints, teams of high school culinary students take on a big challenge: create a delicious, nutritious school lunch for about $1 per meal.

At last week’s kickoff event, excitement was already simmering. CPS teachers and culinary mentors shared ideas and goals and even exchanged a little friendly, competitive banter. And they should be enthused — a record 17 CPS teams plan to participate, making this the biggest Cooking up Change Chicago event ever.

Chef Marcos Ausencio, culinary instructor at Benito Juarez Community Academy, may be new to the contest, but he and his team already have their hopes high. “My kids are excited,” he says. “I'm just coming out of the industry myself and have all these ideas. I think we could come up with some great ideas and execute them well.”

Ausencio and fellow Juarez culinary instructor Chef Kimberly Franklin are confident in their students. Although both definitely want to win — and who wouldn’t?– the value of students’ experiences comes first. Franklin says she hopes that the young chefs on her team build confidence, enjoy sharing their food with hundreds of people and gain vital, real-world experience.

Patrick Williams, an all-star chef, caterer and culinary instructor, has been a part of the competition from the beginning, returning this year as a mentor. What keeps him coming back to the contest? In a word, everything. The energy, the people, the atmosphere, the learning experience for him as a culinary instructor as well as his students.

He says, “When I was in school, we ate pizza and Twinkies. Now, students are learning about healthy food. You can really make healthy food enjoyable.”

This Chicago event kicks off the 2013-14 Cooking up Change season, culminating in the national finals in Washington, D.C.!

Tickets for this year’s Chicago event are on sale now. Join us on Thursday, November 7th at the Skyline Loft at the Bridgeport Art Center. Tickets cost $100, and funds support HSC’s dynamic initiatives to make schools healthier places for all students.

Check back over the next six weeks for more on Cooking up Change. Over the next several weeks, we will be bringing you the latest on Cooking up Change via our blog. You can also stay posted by joining the conversation on our Facebook page, or follow the #CookingupChange tag on Twitter for contest updates, photos and more!

We’re Cooking up Change, and we hope you will join us!

Cooking up Change proudly welcomes National Honorary Co-Chairs Karen Duncan, Christopher G. Kennedy and Amy Rule.

Special thanks to our host and benefit committee members as well as Cooking up Change Chicago Co-Chairs Susan Geraghty and Gwen G. Solberg and Contest Chair Chef Randy Zweiban!