St. Paul Student Chefs Celebrate Diversity in Winning Meal

May 27, 2016

Cooking up Change competitions are happening all across the country, with winners heading to Washington, D.C., for the national finals on June 6. HSC’s Cooking up Change contest challenges high school culinary students to create a healthy and delicious school meal that can be served in a school cafeteria. Cooking up Change is not only fun and educational, but it also adds student voices to the national conversation about school food.

When the student chefs from Harding High School’s Team #1 wanted to create a school lunch that their peers would enjoy, they thought about the diversity and culture of the students in St. Paul Public Schools. And they thought about their own Hmong culture.

The team came up with a Thai Peanut Chicken Lettuce Wrap with Cucumber Salad and Pineapple Crisp. “There’s not anything served in schools right now that’s like our meal,” says Kaylyn. The unique meal caught the eyes—and tastebuds—of the judging panel, and the panel gave Kaylyn, Chinue and Xia first place in the local Cooking up Change competition.

The road to victory wasn’t without its challenges. The team initially wanted to use cabbage in the cucumber salad but had to cut it out for budget reasons. The team also learned how to use ingredients—such as peanut butter and lime juice—to flavor their dish instead of relying on sodium.

Going through this process has made the team more appreciative of the nutrition services in their district. It’s not easy to create a healthy, delicious meal under budget, but it is possible, says Kaylyn.

Congratulations to the winning St. Paul team—and all the St. Paul student chefs—for proving that school meals can be healthy and delicious! Here are all the teams that competed in St. Paul:

Central High School
Student Chefs: Dexter, Alana and Hunter
Menu: Caribbean Cilantro-Lime Chicken Soup, Hot & Fruity Caribbean Coleslaw and Caribbean Bananas

Harding High School Team #1
Student Chefs: Kaylyn, Chinue and Xia
Menu: Thai Peanut Chicken Lettuce Wraps, Cucumber Salad and Pineapple Crisp

Harding High School Team #2
Student Chefs: Leslie, Cindy and Tracy
Menu: Chicken Rice Bowl, Black Bean & Corn Salad and Poached Apple

Humboldt High School
Student Chefs: Hibo and Der
Menu: Garlic Chicken Flatbread, Fresh Spinach Salad and Citrus Smoothie

Johnson High School
Student Chefs: Va and Yeng
Menu: Chicken Laab, Sauteed Spinach and Peanut Butter Bananas

Washington Tech High School
Student Chefs: Tramaine, Houa and Mai
Menu: Southern Barbeque Chicken Pizza with Caramelized Onion, Salad and Diced Peaches