Cooking up Change Judge Spotlight: Chef Rock Harper

May 31, 2012

Black and white rockChef Rahman “Rock” Harper understands the age old adage, “if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” As the winner of the television competition “Hell’s Kitchen” season III, this celebrity chef knows a thing or two about cooking under pressure.

Recently, “Chef Rock” served as a judge for the Cooking up Change national finals. He was eager to see the next chefs and future leaders in the culinary world. “I’m very fortunate,” he said. “I feel like it’s a privilege to be able to share with the next, new generation.”

The Director of Kitchen Operations for DC Central Kitchen is a father of three. As a father, Harper began to recognize the importance of healthy cooking. He went on to publish 44 Things Parents Should Know about Healthy Cooking for Kids.

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Chef Rock Harper questions student chefs during their Cooking up Change final presentations

As a judge of the competition, Chef Rock said he was blown away by the Cooking up Change student chefs and the impressive meals they created.

“This was one of the hardest competitions I’ve ever judged,” he said. “Of course they're high school students, but the skill, the technique, the flavor. One of the things I was really impressed with was the flavor… High school students aren’t afraid to tell you this tastes good, that doesn’t taste good. It was such great flavor!”

He was also impressed with the students’ ability to work within tight constraints. “When I was in high school, there were no restrictions for culinary competitions,” he said. “These kids are doing a culinary competition with great skill, great flavor, great techniques that are meeting the nutritional guidelines… They don’t realize they’re at the forefront of a very powerful country-changing movement.”

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Chef Rock Harper poses with Cooking up Change student chefs Rose and Courtney

Chef Rock said he empathizes with Cooking up Change students chefs as he has competed on national television in front of a notoriously harsh critic.

“I think what’s really important to take away from this is they’ve come very far,” he said, emphasizing that all the student finalists should feel successful for reaching this level and displaying such talent. “You’ve got to make a difference, you have to make a change, be a leader, be a trailblazer, do something extraordinary, something extremely different. Take this success, celebrate it and then move on and do something even better.”

We are honored Chef Rock was part of the esteemed panel of judges for this competition. Thank you for Cooking up Change!