Cooking up Change St. Louis Pair: “We just wanted to create something that was healthier and elegant

February 23, 2012

When Clyde C. Miller Career Academy High School seniors Courtney Wheeler and Rose Bennett came in second place at last year’s Cooking up Change St. Louis contest, they were determined to compete again this year.

“It was a brilliant job because we knew what went wrong,” said Courtney. Rose added, “we decided to do it again to see what happens.”

Competing in the contest has provided valuable life skills for the student chefs. Courtney points to patience: “I learned not to get frustrated and to take my time.” 

Rose added that the she enjoyed being in the kitchen under pressure. “It gave me a rush to know that I have to get a dish done and make sure everything is perfect, looks good, and tastes good in a certain amount of time,” she said. 

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Courtney Wheeler and Rose Bennett present their healthy school lunch to judges at Cooking up Change St. Louis.

Now the Missouri champion pair will take their lemon pepper chicken and brown rice with Caesar salad and berry parfait to Washington D.C. in May for the Cooking up Change national finals!

At the competition, Rosa and Courtney met St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, who said he was excited to see the teens represent St. Louis in the national finals. Rose and Courtney said the mayor’s excitement for the contest showed in his enthusiastic handshakes and congratulations. 

Here’s what else Rose and Courtney had to say about their win:

On the best part of Cooking up Change

Courtney: “Getting taught right from wrong in cooking and following all of the rules. The whole experience was amazing because it was something different.”

On the inspiration behind their meal

Rose: “We just wanted to create something that was healthier and elegant to open up our peers’ eyes. It is a way to open up their eyes to see that there are different forms of cooking other than frying or deep frying. We thought lemon pepper chicken was a way to get the elegance because you can create it any way. It was a way to express that we want healthy food in schools.”

On their perspective of healthy eating

Rose: “I want to make a way that food can taste good and be good for you. In some ways it has changed my perspective on healthy food. Now when I’m in the grocery store, I tend to go for the produce rather than the fatty foods. I want to make my own food instead of the more processed, prepared foods.”

The young culinary talents will refine their presentation in preparation for the Cooking up Change national finals. Upon graduating, the young chefs aspire to further their education and pursue careers in hospitality and culinary arts.

Once again, congratulations to the remarkable student chefs. Stay posted for more updates from Cooking up Change!