Cooking up Change student chefs pull culinary inspiration from all over. And that inspiration results in some seriously tasty school food. All of the teams that competed in the 11th annual Cooking up Change competition on Nov. 16 developed unique and inspired dishes, from Simeon High School’s spicy chicken nachos to Marshall Metropolitan High School’s barbecue chicken.
Marshall focused their entire menu around one hero ingredient. “We wanted to do something different and that all the student would love,” says student chef Princess. “Something sweet, but not too sweet, so we chose peaches.” Peach was infused into every element of the menu, from the barbecue chicken to the peach cobbler.
The student chefs from Prosser High School took first place with their menu of Arroz con Pollo Tazon, Roasted Corn & Carrot Relish and Pear Crisp that was inspired by a trip to Spain next year. The menu featured a chicken drumstick never treated with antibiotics, brown rice and local corn and carrots. “We loved that the vegetables were locally grown,” says student chef Yesenia.
Creating a school meal that’s within budget and that tastes good is a challenge Leslie Fowler, the Chief of Nutrition and Facilities Operations at Chicago Public Schools (CPS) knows all about. “The incredibly talented students with us tonight have met all the challenges of creating healthy, delicious school meals,” she said while announcing the winners last week. “This is the same challenge faced by schools every day, and our students tell me all about it all the time when we miss the mark.”
The biggest challenge for the student chefs at Prosser was staying within the budget. Although it involved staying late at school, “we powered through all our problems—through determination,” says Izaiah.
But for many of the participating student chefs, that challenge is the best part. For Prosser student chef Yesenia, the best part of Cooking up Change was that “everyone comes together to make healthy dishes for students.”
Naomi, who has participated in Cooking up Change before, enjoyed coming back as a veteran and working more on her presentation and speaking skills. That experience will serve the team well as they continue on. Winning the Cooking up Change contest in Chicago is really just the start. From here, their winning meal will be served across CPS schools in the spring, and they’ll travel to Washington, D.C., to compete against winning teams from across the country.
Thank you to all our supporters, including Chicago Presenting Sponsor, Aramark; Heroes, Aetna and Sammons Financial Group; Champion Sponsor, School Health Corporation; Culinary Scholarship sponsor, Washburne Culinary Institute; Official beverage partner, Goose Island; and Official Education Partner, Chicago Public Schools CTE Culinary Arts Program. We’d also like to thank our National Sponsors: Gold Supporter, Newman’s Own Foundation; Official Travel Partner, Southwest; Official Culinary Partner, James Beard Foundation; and National Silver level sponsor, American Federation of Teachers.
Here are all the participating teams and their menus:
Roberto Clemente High School
Spicy Chicken Green Wrap, Sautéed Bean & Corn Salad and Spiced Apples
Student Chefs: Christian, Daya, Gabriel, Kevin, Montserrat and Shyann
Chicago Vocational Career Academy (Second Place)
Orange Chicken Fried Rice, Stir Fry Vegetables and Peanut Butter Banana Wrap
Student Chefs: Asia, Chrishauna, Damayra, Jaih and Laquanya
Juarez Community High School
Chicken Parmigiano Americano, Italian Tossed Salad and Apple Crisp
Student Chefs: Abrahm, Alex, Brenda, Brisa, Erika and Sophia
Marshall Metropolitan High School (Third Place)
The Ginger Peach Explosion, An Amazing Peach Slaw and Golden Peach Cobbler
Student Chefs: Anya, Jeremiah, Princess, Reginald and Tara
North-Grand High School
Chicken Fried Rice, Asian-Style Braised Cabbage and Polo Surprise
Student Chefs: Carlos, Elba, Enrique, Jerricka, Mauricio and Nathaniel
Prosser High School (First Place and Best Presentation)
Arroz con Pollo Tazon, Zanahorias Rostizadas Relish and Pear Crisp
Student Chefs: Itzel, Jasalyn, Jerimah, Jose, Naomi and Yesenia
Richards High School
Zesty Chicken & Alfredo, Zucchini Chips and Banana Sorpresa
Student Chefs: Edgar, Naheishia and Raudel
Roosevelt High School
Chicken Chicken Pollo Pollo, Hot Beans and Cinapple Sploosh
Student Chefs: Ashauntae, Jizel, Octavio, Rachel, Raymundo and Yamaira
Simeon High School
Fiery Pollo Nachos, Fried Cabbage and French Toast Roll
Student Chefs: Airion, Jade, Makayla, Tina, Vanae and Veronica
Thanks to students Imary, Diamond, Emily and Ivanna for their help interviewing students during Cooking up Change.