6 chef teams. $1.25. 1 Real School Food Challenge Winner.
On October 25, six local natural food industry leaders and their sous chefs stepped into Sterling Rice Group’s test kitchen with one goal: to win the Real School Food Challenge.
The competition raises funds for the Chef Ann Foundation, a Boulder-based non-profit that provides financial and educational resources to schools across the country so that every child might have daily access to fresh, healthy food. So far, the foundation has impacted the nutrition of over 2.5 million children in 7,000 schools, but with more than 98,000 schools in the United States, Chef Ann needs our help to take processed food off all school menus.
So what does it take to be named the Real School Food champion, anyway? Serving up a wholesome, kid-friendly meal that costs just $1.25 and meets stringent USDA meal nutrition requirements. It’s no easy task to create a scalable, tasty school lunch with nutrient goals and limitations on calories, sodium, and fats, but these all-star teams rose to the occasion:
- Justin Gold, Founder of Justin’s, with Hosea Rosenberg, Executive Chef & Owner of Blackbelly & Santo
- Robbie Vitrano, CEO of Good Spread, with Kelly Whitaker, CEO of Id Est Hospitality
- Matt LaCasse and Lizzi Ackerman, Co-Founders of Birch Benders
- Miche Bacher, Founder of Zhuzh! & Miche’s Kitchen, with Daniel Asher, Chef/Partner at River & Woods
- Beata Pabian, VP of Sales at The Jackfruit Company, with Alan Murray, CEO of GoodBelly
- Ben Fenton, VP of Boulder Food Group, with Catherine Compitello of The Beacon Fund
After weeks of planning and days of meal prep, event attendees sampled an array of school lunches to rank the meals by presentation, taste, and scalability. With six vibrant lunch trays to consider, it was tough to judge between vegan butternut squash mac-n-cheese, carnitas tacos, apple chicken meatballs, jackfruit chili, or Chinese stir-fry sliders, but ultimately, Justin Gold and Hosea Rosenberg’s sweet potato & spinach enchiladas took the cake! Err…tray! The enchiladas recipe will now be featured on Boulder Valley School District’s lunch menu.
Naturally Boulder is pleased to share its sponsorship of the Real School Food Challenge, and proud to have a community partnership with the Chef Ann Foundation. We’d like to extend a special thanks to our board member, Ben Fenton, for participating and an extra congratulation to Justin Gold, who also won the Industry Leader & Community Champ award at Naturally Boulder’s Pitch Slam & Autumn Awards last week. Boulder’s Real School Food Challenge amplified the Chef Ann Foundation’s mission in local school districts, but there’s more work to be done! Test your cooking skills by hosting your own Real School Food Challenge, or, help your school transition to nutritious, scratch cooking by connecting it to Chef Ann’s many education & grant programs. Let’s put flavorful, wholesome foods at the center of every child’s lunch tray!