Overcoming Challenges to Win Cooking up Change Oakland

June 08, 2017

Cooking up Change competitions are happening all across the country, with winners heading to Washington, D.C., for the national finals on June 12. Healthy Schools Campaign’s Cooking up Change contest challenges high school culinary students to create healthy, great-tasting meals that meet the real-life requirements of the national school meal program. Cooking up Change serves up life-changing opportunities, helps students realize their own potential and puts student voices front and center in the national dialogue about school food.

One of the biggest challenges facing Cooking up Change student chefs is the budget they have to stick with. For Jaye and Jimmy from Ralph Bunche High School, that meant being flexible and inventive when they were putting together their menu.

For their vegetable side dish, they originally wanted to create a fresh cucumber salad, but they pivoted to steamed broccoli to cut down on price. For the fruit dish, they originally envisioned spiced pears, but swapped those out for a spiced applesauce with dried cranberries to stay within budget.

And the menu they ended up with was a crowd-pleaser. Jaye and Jimmy took first place at Cooking up Change Oakland with their menu of Thai Chicken Roll-up with Dipping Sauce, Steamed Broccoli and Spiced Applesauce.

The team also learned a lot about healthy food. “It taught me that healthy food isn’t all green and leafy,” says Jaye. “It can be anything you want it to be.”

Jimmy and Jaye have been working on practicing the preparation of their dishes leading up to the Cooking up Change national finals next week. They’re also looking forward to speaking with their Senators and Representatives. After their win in Oakland, the team cooked for California Governor Jerry Brown and the Budget Commission, and they’re looking forward to bringing their experience to the national stage.

Congratulations to the winning Oakland team—and all the Oakland student chefs—for proving that school meals can be healthy and delicious!

The Detroit contest took place on April 12, and this was Oakland’s first time competing. Here are all the teams that competed:

Team #1
Student Chefs: Jamal and Yasmine
Menu: California Chicken Burrito, Green Slaw and Peach Cobbler

Team #2
Student Chefs: Jaye and Jimmy
Menu: Thai Chicken Roll-up with Dipping Sauce, Steamed Broccoli and Spiced Applesauce

Team #3
Student Chefs: Noah and Isiah
Menu: Oaklandish Chicken Cheese Sandwich, French Fries and Orange and Yogurt 50/50

Team #4
Student Chefs: Romello and Brandon
Menu: Chicken Pasta Alfredo, Broccoli and Pepper Saute and Banana Yogurt Slider