JBF News: School Food is Cool

students in the kitchen Something special happened at the Beard House last Thursday night. There wasn’t a famous chef in the kitchen or wine waiting to be poured. Instead we welcomed a group of students from New York City’s public schools to help judge the ten final dishes in our NYC Public Schools Recipe Contest. Student judges came from Eagle Academy middle school in Brooklyn, Dewitt Clinton high school in the Bronx, and East Village Community School in Manhattan. students judge the dishes In addition to six students between the ages of 7 and 18, we had a number of important foodies and NYC school food bigwigs join us to help with the judging, including NYC Office of SchoolFood’s executive chef Jorge Collazo, top SchoolFood execs Stephen O’Brien and Tracy Cashin, cookbook author Linda Long, and restaurateurs Joy Pierson and Bart Potenza. bean and veggie wrap The plant-based recipes ran the gamut from stew to tacos to pasta, and each dish was expertly prepared and plated by the talented students of the New York City Food and Finance High School. Entries were presented two at a time and everyone took tastes, discussing the merits of each recipe before rating them on a scale of one to ten. recipe winner Every dish was delicious and the scoring was very close, but in the end we crowned two winners—one student and one non-student recipe. Our student winner, Tihelia James from the NYC Food and Finance High School, blew us away with her grilled bean and veggie wrap. The addition of pineapple brought a sweet and tangy note to the wrap, winning over almost all of the tasters. The incredibly proud and excited James won dinner for two at Candle 79 restaurant, a copy of James Beard's American Cookery, and the opportunity to shoot and style a cover of Vegetarian Journal with author Linda Long. Tihelia tells us the recipe was part of a group effort, in conjunction with the EatWise team from her school. Our non-student winning recipe, created by Hannah Lawrence, was a Southwestern veggie quesadilla, which featured hummus as a stand-in for cheese. (We’ve got the recipe right here if you want to try it for yourself.) Lawrence has won her choice of either a one-year membership to the James Beard Foundation or a dinner for two at the James Beard House. tasting the quesadilla Although we could only declare two winners in our contest, all the semifinalist and finalists’ recipes will be turned over to the NYC Office of SchoolFood for piloting in 20 to 30 schools participating in the New York Coalition for Healthy School Food’s Project Cool School Food program. We hope that these creative, delicious, and healthy dishes will make their way onto the plates of NYC students soon! Special thanks to our partners, New York Coalition for Healthy School Food, the NYC Office of SchoolFood, Candle Café/79, and the New York City Food and Finance High School, for helping our kids eat well. (Photos by Eileen Miller)

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