At the 2013 Building a Healthier Future Summit, thanks to the help of celebrated master chefs and school nutrition professionals, we got an inside look into the challenges faced daily in school cafeterias throughout the nation. Our two teams competed on stage to see who could create the most appetizing and visually appealing meal that not only met federal nutritional standards but also remained within an actual school lunch budget.
Our first team, and the winner of this challenge, was Paula Angelucci and Renee Elliott from the Colonial School District in New Castle, DE, who teamed up with James Beard Award-winning chef Jose Garces. Their well-rounded lunch of Black Bean & Chicken Chilaquiles, sweet potatoes
and a simple pear cup
certainly wowed the judges and ALMOST had them yearning for the good old days of middle school.
On the other side of the stage were Brian Giles and Pamela Guillory from the Houston Independent School District and Food Network Star Anne Burrell, and they put up quite a fight. Their Roasted Chicken and Veggie Burrito
was chock full of delicious ingredients and their Peach Cornbread and Whipped Vanilla Yogurt dessert
would wrap up any school lunch period perfectly.
Choosing a winner was an equally difficult task for our incredible panel of judges: Tim Carman, food writer at the Washington Post; Debra Eschmeyer, co-founder of FoodCorps; Scott Mowbray, editor-in-chief of Cooking Light; Amie Valpone, personal chef, culinary nutritionist and editor-in-chief of TheHealthyApple.com; and the winning team of the healthy Schools Campaign’s 2011 Cooking up Change Contest.
See the slideshow below for photos highlights from the competition!
Anne Burrell (Click here to close)
With her trademark spiky blond hair and pumped‐up personality, Anne Burrell has worked at some of the top restaurants in New York, studied the culinary landscape and traditions of Italy, battled alongside Mario Batali as his sous chef on Food Network’s Iron Chef America and written a New York Times best‐selling cookbook.
Anne eliminates the intimidation of restaurant dishes and reveals concise, easy‐to‐master techniques for the at‐home cook on her Food Network series, Secrets of a Restaurant Chef. Anne also co‐hosts Worst Cooks in America, a prime‐time reality show where Anne leads a team of hopeless home cooks from around the country through culinary boot camp. In the fall of 2011, Anne starred in her own right on Next Iron Chef: Super Chefs.
Growing up in upstate New York, Anne’s passion for food and cooking began at an early age. After obtaining an English and communication degree from Canisius College in Buffalo, she pursued her interest in the restaurant business by enrolling in the Culinary Institute of America. Following graduation, she spent a year in Italy attending the Italian Culinary Institute for Foreigners while working at La Taverna del Lupo in Umbria and La Bottega del’ 30, a 30‐seat restaurant that offers only one seating a night in Tuscany. During this year, Anne grew to truly appreciate and understand the philosophy of Italian cuisine and culture, which left a lasting impact on her culinary point of view.
Upon her arrival in New York City, Anne was hired as a sous chef at Felidia Restaurant, working with Lidia Bastianich. She then served as a chef at Savoy where she cooked over an open wood fire and created flavorful Mediterranean‐inspired menus. Here Anne developed her personal culinary style: a real love of rustic food made with pure and simple ingredients with intense flavors.
Anne took the opportunity to spread her culinary knowledge and passion as a teacher at the Institute of Culinary Education. Shortly after, she joined the Batali‐Bastianich empire by accepting a job at Italian Wine Merchants. The job also included salumi production and traveling to off‐site events with Mario Batali. When Mario became one of Food Network’s esteemed Iron Chefs, he knew exactly who to enlist as his sous chef: the talented and dynamic Anne Burrell.
As the executive chef at New York hot spot Centro Vinoteca from its opening in July 2007 through September 2008, Anne served up her “creative‐authentic” Italian menu of small plates (piccolini), antipasti, pastas and main courses accented by her trademark bold, pure flavors.
Burrell is currently focusing on new episodes of both of her hit shows and has begun work on her second book. In October 2011, Burrell released her first book, Cook Like a Rock Star, which gives home cooks the confidence and support to be rock stars in their own kitchens. The book earned a place on The New York Times Bestseller List. Burrell feels fortunate to have found a field that satisfies her so completely. “I feel so lucky that I have found my true passion in life.”
Jose Garces (Click here to close)
Since opening his first restaurant in 2005, Chef Jose Garces has emerged as an enormous talent and one of the nation’s most gifted chefs and restaurateurs. He is a 2009 winner of the James Beard Foundation’s prestigious “Best Chef, Mid-Atlantic” award and one of only a few chefs in the country to hold the coveted title of Iron Chef, appearing regularly on Food Network’s hit show Iron Chef America. He is also the author of two cookbooks, including his travelogue and memoir The Latin Road Home (Lake Isle Press, Fall 2012) and his first recipe collection, the stunning and instructive Latin Evolution (Lake Isle Press, 2008).
Chef Garces’ eponymous Garces Group operates more than a dozen restaurants in Philadelphia, PA; Chicago, IL; Scottsdale, AZ; Palm Springs, CA and Atlantic City, NJ, as well as a thriving Philadelphia-based catering operation and a food truck. His award-winning concepts range from authentic Andalusian tapas to Latin-Asian small plates, from modern Mexican street food to contemporary American ingredient-driven cuisine. In addition to his restaurants, Chef Garces is the owner of 40-acre Luna Farm in Bucks County, PA, where he and his team grow produce for his seven Philadelphia restaurants. In 2013, he will partner with Philadelphia’s landmark Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts to debut Volver, a state-of-the-art concept kitchen and champagne bar where he will prepare and serve artful tasting menus and continue to develop and refine his groundbreaking culinary style.
“Over the past 10 years, my life and career have taken off in directions I could never have hoped to anticipate, and it has been an amazing ride. Each new opportunity has brought a fresh set of challenges, and it has been exhilarating to overcome them and to continue to evolve and grow – as a chef, as a hospitality professional and as a person.”
Brian Giles (Click here to close)
School food service director for the Houston Independent School District (HISD), Brian Giles, has focused on a variety of nutrition-related issues in his time with HISD. Most notably, through his dedication to limiting food insecurity among students, he has successfully brought the Breakfast in the Classroom program to every elementary and middle school in the district, adding 220 schools since 2009.
Paula Angelucci (Click here to close)
As nutrition services supervisor for Colonial School District in New Castle, DE, Paula Angelucci has demonstrated an unyielding dedication to ensuring that students throughout the district have easy access to healthy options while at school. Angelucci has earned Healthier US Schools Challenge awards in district schools and continues her efforts afterhours through her role as Chair of the Delaware Farm to School Advisory Board, Food Bank of Delaware Anti-Hunger Coalition Task Force, Vice President of Delaware School Nutrition Association.
Tim Carman (Click here to close)
Before joining The Washington Post staff as a food writer, Tim Carman was the food columnist (and later food editor) for Washington City Paper for nearly five years. He’s been nominated for two James Beard Foundation awards, winning one in 2011 for Food-Related Columns and Commentary. His work has appeared in three volumes of the “Best Food Writing” collections and in the sixth edition of “Cornbread Nation.”
Debra Eschmeyer (Click here to close)
co-founder and Director of Policy and Partnerships, Eschmeyer is a recipient of the James Beard Foundation Leadership Award in recognition of her school food reform efforts. Previously an editor for Food Justice, a contributor to the documentary Lunch Line
, author of several publications, and creator of campaigns
and films to better connect federal nutrition programs with local agriculture, Eschmeyer is a go-to expert on food systems and policy. She works from her organic farm
Scott Mowbray (Click here to close)
Editor-in-chief of Cooking Light
, and also a 17-year award-winning veteran of Time Inc. who has run magazines, websites and editorial divisions for the company. Mowbray has written about food and nutrition for more than 20 years, been a restaurant reviewer, book author, radio commentator and columnist.
Amie Valpone (Click here to close)
Editor-in-Chief of www.healthyapple.com
and a Manhattan based Personal Chef, Culinary Nutritionist, Professional Recipe Developer, Food Photographer and Writer specializing in simple gluten-free and dairy-free ‘Clean’ recipes for the home cook. Amie recently healed herself from six years of chronic pain, exhausting every doctor in the country and Mayo Clinic; she shares her story of how Clean Eating saved her life and inspires you to Clean up your food, too. Amie lives in Manhattan, NYC where she cooks for a variety of clients including celebrities and people with busy lifestyles who enjoy healthy, fresh food. Amie’s work appears on Martha Stewart, Fox News Health, WebMD, Prevention Magazine, Glamour Magazine, The Huffington Post, The Food Network, Clean Eating Magazine and many others. Visit Amie on Facebook
Cooking Up Change, Grand Prize Winners 2011 (Click here to close)
Alexus Baldwin, Leoniqua Jackson
and Denver Singletary
, a team of high school student chefs from Jacksonville, Florida, won the grand prize in the Cooking up Change
National healthy cooking contest in 2011. Similar to the Great American School Lunch Challenge, in order to win the Cooking up Change competition, these three high school students had to create a healthy, great-tasting school meal with only six steps of preparation, ingredients commonly available to school food service and many of the other constraints that school nutrition professionals face daily.