Cooking up Change Spotlight on Clemente Community Academy Student Chefs

November 02, 2011

by Brittany Wright, media and outreach specialist

Last week, I had the pleasure of seeing culinary students from Clemente Community Academy in action as they prepare for tomorrow’s Cooking up Change!

Diana, one of the student chefs, said her chef instructor Ms. Maxie provided a unique type of inspiration. She would point out the window and say “I can see the Washington Monument,” or encourage them to wave to First Lady Michelle Obama! The first-place team in Cooking up Change will be invited to compete in the national finals in Washington, DC. Last year’s national winners recently received a visit and congratulations from Michelle Obama. “That really kept us encouraged,” Diana said. 

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The Clemente Team points to their ultimate goal – competing in Washington D.C.

Chef instructor Maxie said, “They are so enthusiastic about it, the energy level is high. They’re just really excited. These kids have been excited from day one, and they’re still excited.” 

The chef instructor proudly shared how driven her students are. “They do more than come to the normal practices,” she said. “They don’t mind taking initiative. They’ve done that from day one. I love their energy level.”

When I visited, culinary student Anthony’s energy level was apparent. He said, “I feel I have an opportunity to do something I like, cooking and the chance to go to the capital.”

For some students, Cooking up Change introduces different and healthier food options. First-time competitor Alicia explained, “It’s interesting to learn new recipes.” She went on to say her team is focused on winning. “We worked very hard and when we want to do something, we get it done,” she said.

Arianna said, “I’m really proud. This year, I think we can make it because we have a great dish!”

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Clemente student chefs get ready for Cooking up Change

Team member Hector explained that their recipe reflects their team, mixing their various Latino and African-American cultural backgrounds. He explained that it was important for Clemente to consider function as well as taste and nutritional value. “We were inspired to make something that we could hold in our hands,” he said. “It’s more efficient.”

Chef Randy Zweiban, the team’s mentor, also praised Clemente. You can read our spotlight on the team's proud mentor here.

The Clemente student chef team is cooking up change! Are you? We invite you to join us for the Cooking up Change flagship contest and benefit on November 3. You can learn more about the event here and purchase your tickets on-site when you arrive.

Send the Clemente team and our other student chefs words of encouragement on Facebook and Twitter using #ChicagoCuC.

Plus! Be sure to check out our stories from Cooking up Change alums, chef mentors, sponsors and students!