Houston students to compete in national healthy cooking competition

HOUSTON – Students from across the country will be in the nation’s capital this week to compete in the 2016 Cooking Up Change National finals, where they will recreate their winning recipes for celebrity judges, organizers said.

The judges include chefs Daniel Giusti (Brigaid, Noma, 1789) and Kwame Onwauchi (The Shaw Bijou) of Bravo’s “Top Chef.”

Healthy Schools Campaign said its “Cooking Up Change” challenges high school culinary students to create healthy and delicious school meals within strict budgetary constraints of about $1 per lunch.

The winning teams from 10 district competitions across the nation will travel to the U.S. Department of Education in Washington, D.C. Organizers said the teams will vie for top honors by preparing and presenting their award-winning meals to a panel of national leaders, nutrition experts and celebrity chef judges.

The students will have the opportunity to visit Washington, D.C., sites and serve their meals to legislative leaders. Organizers said their meals will be served in their respective school districts during the 2016-2017 school year.

U.S. Education Secretary John King is expected to visit the kitchen from 12:30-1 p.m. Monday to meet the students and wish them luck before they begin cooking.

“These students are not only participating in a healthy cooking competition, but they’re also lending their voices to the political debate over school food,” Healthy Schools Campaign President and CEO Rochelle Davis said. “They’ve shown that it’s possible to work within the constraints of the national nutrition standards, and by taking a page out of their cookbook we, too, can make healthy and delicious school meals a reality for all students.”

On the Houston team, recipes include a chicken Philly sandwich with sautéed onions, peppers and cheese, a cucumber and onion salad, and a yogurt parfait with a graham cracker crust and pineapples.