Cooking up Change Spotlight on Team Mentor Chef Matt Eversman: “They are incredibly talented”
November 14, 2011
by Brittany Wright, media and outreach specialist
Last Thursday, we were honored with the opportunity to meet 12 teams of student chefs from across the city during our flagship Chicago Cooking up Change healthy cooking contest. The contest challenges students to create a healthy school lunch on a tight budget with real-life constraints. These kids were filled to the brim with excitement. We were just as thrilled to meet their chef mentors, members of the culinary industry who lent their expertise to the students during preparation for the contest.
In particular, Chef Matt Eversman stands out. This year, Time Out Chicago named him their “Breakout Chef of the Year.” The restaurateur comes from generations of cooks and chefs. “I’ve always been drawn to food,” he said. “Every job I’ve ever had has dealt with food.”
For Eversman, being part of how people celebrate is one of the most rewarding parts of the culinary industry. “Food is always at the center of celebration,” he said.
We chatted with the first-time chef mentor after his team won first place in the contest with their lunch of oven-fried chicken with sweet potato salad and collard greens and cabbage.
Chef Matt got involved with Healthy Schools Campaign about a year ago because of his commitment to the cause. “I wasn’t in school too long ago,” he said. “The students are making a change. That's exciting to me, it’s very exciting.”
The students he worked with at Chicago Vocational Career Academy said they loved this excitement. “Chef Matt was just as energetic as we were,” said student chef Kaliah.
“You have a responsibility to those you serve to serve healthful, nutritious food,” he said. “You’re setting an example. They’ll hold on to that. Teaching them skills that they’ll use for a lifetime is an amazing thing to be a part of.”
At 27 years old, Eversman noted how easily he related to these aspiring chefs’ ambitions for their future. “[My age] allowed me to connect with them in a different way. I think they saw themselves in me and I saw myself in them,” he said.
“I came in and sat down with them and asked them what they wanted to do. They said ‘we want to go to Washington D.C.!’ These guys were practicing and practicing and every time, they got better. They are incredibly talented.”
Chef Matt praised the CVCA team’s efforts: “I want people to know they have just as much and more passion than anyone else.”
Eversman said he is eager to work with students to rewrite the recipe for school food again. “It was an honor to work with Healthy Schools Campaign and Cooking up Change,” he said. “It was an honor to work with the students. I can’t wait for next year!”
In the meantime, Chef Matt Eversman will open OON Chicago! We’re looking forward to hearing about this endeavor!
Congratulations again to CVCA and all of our Cooking up Change Chicago competitors. Be sure to stay posted on the latest Cooking up Change updates here.