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Buffalo schools seek chefs for contest to help design healthy, local dishes for cafeterias

Any chefs out there who want to help improve the food in Buffalo Public Schools?

You have until Thursday to throw your apron into the ring as the BPS seeks local chefs to participate in the Buffalo Farm-to-School Chef Challenge in October.

The district is looking for input on recipe development for student lunches that conform to USDA standards and incorporate local, seasonal food.

Participating chefs will compete against one another as well as against a team of Buffalo Public School students

Winning recipes will be highlighted on the December school menu in participating schools.

The student team will be made up of eight to 10 students in grades 7 to 12. It will be led by Chef Bobby Anderson, of Niagara Falls, who appeared on Season 4 of the Fox television series, “Hell’s Kitchen,” finishing fourth out of 17 contestants.

Anderson is now executive director of F Bites, an organization that uses culinary instruction as a vehicle to develop leadership and professional skills, as well as college and career readiness in youth and adults.

Contest meal prep, judging and sampling will take place on Oct. 4 at an event to kick off the 2016-17 Farm-to-School Program at Southside Elementary School. The event is intended to engage and educate the school community about local farms and the importance of eating healthy fruits and vegetables.

Interested chefs can learn more and download the application form here.

Entries are due by Thursday.

The Farm-to-School Program began last year and is a pilot program for 12 schools that have introduced locally grown, seasonal produce to school lunch menus. The program highlights seasonal offerings, encourages students to try healthy foods and asks for feedback..

Oct. 4 meals will be judged on meeting USDA criteria including the use of 2 ounces of protein, whole grains, fruits and vegetables and how successfully the meal meets the nutritional guidelines of less than 30 grams of fat, less than 10 grams of saturated fat, less than 640 milligrams of sodium and is between 550 and 650 calories.

“The Buffalo Farm-to-School, Harvest of the Month pilot program has really afforded our students the opportunity to have a voice in their school nutrition program,” Bridget O’Brien Wood, BPS Food Service director, said in a news release. “These students are trying locally grown foods and learning about New York State agriculture, and they get to tell us what they think about the new menu items. This Chef Challenge is another way to engage our youth in a fun, friendly competition with local area Chefs who can help create appealing recipes that will be incorporated into the school meal program. We can't wait to see what they cook up in October.”

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