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Students 'Cooking Up Change' For St. Louis Public Schools

Student chefs from Beaumont High School and Clyde C. Miller Career Academy competed today for a place in the national school cooking competition Cooking Up Change.

Students were charged to create a healthy lunch of one entrée and two sides. The judging panel was composed of representatives from the culinary and academic fields, and students were judged on the criteria of presentation, originality, taste, and appearance.  The competition was presented by the Healthy Schools Campaign advocacy group based in Chicago.

Joe Wilson, chef instructor for Clyde C. Miller Career Academy, feels the students’ involvement in the culinary program teaches more than just basic nutrition skills.

“It’s the food service of today. It’s not even the future. This is something that has to happen in order to get students and other individuals eating in a healthier manner, and the schools are not given the option anymore. So if these students want to continue in a culinary field, they have to have some form of nutritional education and guidelines,” he says.

Even though this meal had to adhere to certain guidelines, Wilson tries to teach the students about putting their signature on every dish they prepare.

“It’s important to be able to follow a recipe, but there comes a time when you need to be able to taste and adjust,” he says. “I could make the same soup ten times but I’m still going to think I can make it better the eleventh time, and I try to give that sense of pride to the kids and make sure they realize that you’re putting your own personal stamp on everything that you cook.”

This year’s winning dish of barbecue chicken, poached pears, and sautéed vegetables was prepared by students from Beaumont High School. Their meal will also be incorporated into the St. Louis Public Schools lunch program and served as a meal to students.

The three-student team each received a gift certificate, a new set of cookware, and a trip to Washington D.C. to compete in the national competition in June.  

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