Teen chefs from Valley High School in Santa Ana, Calif., captured the national Cooking Up Change competition in Washington, D.C., Monday, squaring off against teams of teen culinarians nationwide. In a packed house at the U.S. Department of Education cafeteria, the winners (see photo below left, in the fridge), Alejandro (Alex) Hernandez, Ashley Blanco, and Ivan Lope wowed a panel of all-star judges with their creation of lemon and spinach chicken, and Tuscan bean salad, alongside cinnamon-poached pears. The hitch? Creating a nutritious and delicious school lunch for under $2 per serving, in keeping with federal spending limits on school food.
“It’s beyond words how wonderful they did,” says Brittany Wright of the Healthy Schools Campaign, which sponsored the competition. “They worked so hard under pressure, and they excelled. This prepares them for a lifetime of skills and success.”