Return Competitors Win Cooking up Change Phoenix

May 25, 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.

Last year, Michael and Jason were super excited to show off their chicken enchilada recipe at the Cooking up Change Phoenix competition, but they were thrown off when Michael got food poisoning the day of the competition and couldn’t compete. The duo’s menu still took third place, but they were seeking redemption as they headed into this year’s competition.

They knew they were stronger as a team, and this year, they took first place. Their menu of M&J Curry, Zesty Curried Corn and Potatoes, and Darn Good Bananas wowed the judges and earned them a trip to Washington, D.C., to compete in the national finals next month.

Michael and Jason had experimented with Indian cuisine in their culinary classes, and those meals always got a great reception, so they decided to develop an Indian meal for Cooking up Change this year. Originally, they wanted to use chicken, but because of the $1.25 per meal price point, they had to sub in meatballs.

Cooking up Change recipes aren’t allowed to include any added salt (just like real school meal recipes), so Michael and Jason used a beef soup base and lemon juice to round out the curry powder and cayenne pepper flavors in the main dish.

The team said the experience gave them more insight into the hard work that goes into creating healthy school meals. “Healthy school food is important because students need food and maybe they don’t get food at home,” Jason says. “You need to make sure it’s enough nutrition to last the rest of the day.”

The trip to Washington will be the first for both Michael and Jason. They’re looking forward not only to competing but to talking with members of Congress. “It’s important because people that aren’t from here can see what goes on here,” Michael says. “They can understand where we’re coming from.”

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

The Phoenix contest took place on May 9, and this was Phoenix’s second time competing. Here are all the teams that competed:

Team #1
Student Chefs: Haley and Skylar
Menu: Kickin’ Chicken Potato Tacos, Spicy Slaw and Cinnamon Applesauce

Team #2
Student Chefs: Anastasia and Deshawn
Menu: Will’s AZ Chili, Roasted Broccoli and Cinnamon Oats and Nana’s

Team #3
Student Chefs: Jason and Michael
Menu: M&J Curry, Zesty Curried Corn and Potatoes, and Darn Good Bananas

Team #4
Student Chefs: Amy and Jafet
Menu: Summer Chicken Salad, Roasted Zucchini and Just Craisins

Team #5
Student Chefs: Zane and Christian
Menu: Wrap It Up Chicken, Broccoli with a Bark and Bananas for Bananas

Team #6
Student Chefs: Amanda and Serina
Menu: Mom’s Homemade Spaghetti, Italian Dressing Salad and Banana Parfait