Cooking up Change in Jacksonville

April 02, 2012 | Written By:

The student chefs of Jacksonville’s Frank H. Peterson Academy are one step closer to defending their Cooking up Change national championship title! We are happy to announce that culinary students Ashley Larramore, Phillip White, and Hannah Reese took first place in the Jacksonville contest and will represent their city in the national finals next month. The three high school student chefs looked to their friends and fellow classmates, last year’s Cooking up Change national winners for advice and it paid off! 

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Cooking up Change Jacksonville winners Ashley Larramore, Hannah Reese and Phillip White

We talked to the three culinary talents, fresh off their win. They were still in shock, fighting back tears of joy and excitement. Ashley and Hannah competed in the Cooking up Change local contest last year, taking third place, and were happy to see their persistence and hard work pay off.  

The team wowed judges with a West African-inspired chicken imoyo wrap, Jollof rice, and West African succotash. Phillip said, “we went where no one else had gone.” Hannah explained that “we used simple ingredients that we take for granted every day here in the U.S. They are not always available in parts of Africa. So we wanted to raise awareness to that issue.”

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Cooking up Change Jacksonville student-created meal

Their effort reinforces the Cooking up Change goal of elevating student voices and raising awareness of the value of healthy school food. Ashley enjoyed having her voice heard while demonstrating her talent. “I wanted the chance to be heard, to show people what we are capable of,” she said. 

Participating in the contest also changed the students’ view of healthy school food. Phillip said, “school food can be healthy and can taste good.” 

The team plans to practice their garnishing and presentation skills in preparation for the nationals in May. The Jacksonville team completes the roster of student chefs heading to Washington D.C. in May. They will join teams from Chicago, St. Louis, Denver, Santa Ana, and Winston-Salem.

We can’t wait to see them there! Learn about all of the teams on our blog. For more information about Cooking up Change, please visit

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