What Does it Take to Win Cooking up Change?

February 16, 2015

The team from Marshall High School in Chicago wowed judges and their peers with a unique and healthy meal.

Creating a meal that adheres to strict nutritional and budgetary guidelines is not easy. And creating a meal that adheres to those guidelines that students will enjoy is an even harder challenge.

But a student culinary team from Marshall Metropolitan High School succeeded in doing just that. At the Cooking up Change competition in Chicago, the team won over the judges palette with their menu of Haitian Spice Chicken, Slamming Collard Greens and Pineapple Surprise Parfait.

The Cooking up Change competition challenges high school culinary students to create school lunches that their peers will enjoy, while adhering to strict nutrition guidelines, ingredient lists and budget constraints. The program puts student voices front and center in the conversation about healthy school food. Asked what she learned from the contest, Marshall student chef Autumn G. said, “You have your ups and downs. Your recipes are not going to be exactly what you thought they might be, but you have to keep trying and make the best out of it.”

Adhering to those strict guidelines was the toughest part of the competition said student chef Rayvan H. “The biggest challenge was to try to make a great tasting meal with a limited amount of ingredients that was under 850 calories,” she said.

For student chef Zykeria P., the hardest part was showing off the food to the judges. “I wasn’t really sure if people would like the food that we made,” she said. “It turns out people really liked it.”

The students wanted to create a dish that was unique, so they turned to the heritage of Da’ovan B., whose parents hail from Haiti. “I’ve never tasted any kind of Haitian dish in school,” Da’ovan said. “I just wanted to taste something that resembled home.”

The hard work paid off. Even before winning the Cooking up Change competition in October, the students had validation from their peers at school. “The students worked hard researching a dish that would be different,” said Marshall culinary instructor Kimberly Minor. “They tested their meal out on all the students at school, and everyone liked it.”

And now the team’s meal will face its biggest test yet: the scrutiny of their peers from across the city. This Thursday, February 19, every CPS school will serve the team’s winning meal, and students will get to taste firsthand the future of school food!
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