Orange County Public Schools (OCPS) culinary students competed for the first time in “Cooking up Change,” a culinary competition that puts student voices front and center in the national dialogue about school menus. Working within the funding and nutrition regulations that schools face every day, five teams of OCPS culinary students took on the challenge to create a delicious, nutritious school lunch that their peers will enjoy.
(pictured left to right: Lora Gilbert, Chef Bryan Frick, Matheus DeCarvalho, Ny-Lene Melendez Anfernee Anderson, Chef Gary Jones)
The judging panel scored the teams on originality, taste, appearance, and presentation to select the overall winning dish. Celebrity judges for the competition included: Chef Gary Jones, culinary dietary specialist, Walt Disney Parks & Resorts and Chef Bryan Frick, corporate executive chef, Nestle Corp. Senior Director of OCPS Food & Nutrition Services, Lora Gilbert, also judged the event.
OCPS Westside Tech culinary students Ny-Lene Melendez, Matheus DeCarvalho, and Anfernee Anderson served up spicy beef empanadas accompanied by fruit salad with raspberry vinaigrette dressing and Tex-Mex fries to win the district competition. They will travel to Washington, D.C. in June to compete against 8 other teams from across the country in the “Cooking up Change” national finals.
“We were so fortunate to be able to participate in Cooking up Change,” said Janet Appleton, Westside Tech Culinary instructor. “My students realized the benefit in many ways that I didn’t really think about ahead of time. They practiced teamwork and saw the importance of planning
and time management. The students were amazed at how specific the portion sizes and nutritional requirements are for school menus. We were left with a huge appreciation for the tremendous amount of time and effort it takes for our food service staff to prepare healthy meals
every day in our schools.”
Healthy Schools Campaign (HSC) launched “Cooking up Change” in Chicago in 2007 to spotlight remarkable student talent, and to bring attention to the challenges of serving fresh, healthy school meals along with the need for reform in our school food system.