Today, We’re Cooking up Change

June 10, 2013

Cooking up Change national finals: today!

Washington, D.C. is an exciting culinary city, with some of the best chefs and most innovative, mouth-watering restaurants around. But today, the hottest dining scene will be the cafeteria at the U.S. Department of Education, where eight teams of high school student chefs are looking to transform the future of school food. After traveling to D.C. from across the country, these students are ready to square off in the national finals of HSC’s healthy cooking contest, Cooking up Change, in which each team will prepare  and present  their healthy and delicious school lunch to a panel of experts from the education, policy and culinary worlds, and more.

The teams arrived in D.C. yesterday, and you’d better believe they have their game faces on. It was a long journey, and an exciting one—although several of the student chefs have been to D.C. before, others boarded a plane for the first time ever. They can’t wait to see the key sights of our nation’s capital, which they will have a chance to do Tuesday morning before a legislative briefing, but more importantly, they can’t wait to get into the Department of Ed kitchen and compete for the title.

And what a competitive field it is!

Will the Cooking up Change flagship city team from Chicago, who recently presented their dishes to rave reviews at the Illinois State Board of Education, win similar acclaim in D.C.?

Will Denver’s panini wrap and innovative jalapeño-infused dessert come out on top?

Will newcomers to the competition Los Angeles prove to be a force to be reckoned with and turn their first D.C. trip into a victory?

Or maybe St. Louis’ BBQ baked chicken will be declared the winner?

Will Jacksonville repeat the success of its 2011 national title, when its winning student chefs went on to judge the likes of Anne Burrell and José Garces in the Great American School Lunch Challenge?

Will Orange County’s Valley High School leave with its second consecutive Cooking up Change title, not just for the area but for the high school itself?

Will the judges enjoy Winston-Salem’s whimsically named dishes like “Tenacious Turkey Chili” and “Sunshine Fries?”

Will newcomers Memphis win the day with their take on their hometown’s regional cuisine?

There are so many questions, and we’re as excited as you are, to find out! The national contest takes place this afternoon. To keep track of all the action as it happens and cheer on your city and your team, you can check back on our Facebook page, follow the #CookingupChange hashtag on Twitter and check out behind-the-scenes photos through the #CookingupChange Instagram tag. We’ll be announcing the national winners tomorrow evening, and you’ll hear from the winners themselves on Wednesday.

And for more information about the legislative briefing we’re hosting with The Pew Charitable Trusts tomorrow, follow the #CookingupChange tag and read a recap on our blog tomorrow.  

We can’t wait to see who takes home the title, but regardless of who wins, each and every one of these talented young chefs should be proud of the impact they are making on their journey towards bright, promising futures.

Want to get involved? Invite your legislator to lunch. You have one day left to send an email, fax or tweet to your representative or senator asking them to come down to the Longworth Cafeteria tomorrow to sample these delicious school meals and join the conversation about improving school food.