Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Thursday: Sam Kass Hosts 'Great American School Lunch Challenge' - Celeb Chefs Anne Burrell & Jose Garces To Compete

Despite the snow, Partnership for a Healthier America's child obesity summit will go on in DC... Acclaimed chefs duel to create school lunch meals...
Though snowstorm Saturn is currently dumping on DC, it won't stop the action on Thursday at Partnership for a Healthier America's (PHA) second Building a Healthier Future Summit in Washington, DC, according to organizers. Senior Policy Advisor for Healthy Food Initiatives Sam Kass will take center stage at 1:30 PM when he hosts an epic culinary duel between acclaimed chefs and school chefs, the 'Great American School Lunch Challenge,' at the Grand Hyatt hotel.  First Lady Michelle Obama, PHA's honorary chair, will deliver the keynote address at the conference on Friday.  (Above: Kass in action at a 2011 cookoff)

Run by the foundation that supports the Let's Move! campaign, the Summit brings together child health activists and professionals from across the US.  It is both the last hurrah for Mrs. Obama's third anniversary celebration for her campaign, and the Year 4 kickoff.  Kass has emceed cookoffs across the US since Mrs. Obama launched Let's Move! in 2010.

Food Network star and bestselling cookbook author Anne Burrell and chef/restaurateur Jose Garces, a James Beard Award winner and Iron Chef America champ, will be paired with school nutrition professionals when they compete to create delicious dishes that can be served in the National School Lunch Program.  They'll be required to keep to the USDA dietary guidelines and tight budget as they go knife-to-knife before a live audience.  (Above: Burrell during a White House visit for Let's Move!) 

Brian Giles, senior food services administrator of the Houston Independent School District, "will guide Chef Burrell and her teammate, HISD Operations Manager Pamela Guillory," PHA said.  Paula Angelucci, the nutrition director of the Colonial School District near Wilmington, DE, will "provide Chef Garces and Colonial School District Cafeteria Manager Renee Elliott with helpful pointers."

About 32 million children participate in the National School Lunch Program, and sweeping changes to cafeteria menus went into effect at the beginning of this school year, thanks to the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act 2010, the legislative centerpiece of the Let's Move! campaign, championed by Mrs. Obama as it moved through Congress.  

Kass emceed a similar culinary duel at the Partnership's first Summit, when teams of acclaimed chefs--including Tom Colicchio and Ming Tsai--were faced with a six-year old judge who provided high comic relief by snubbing the terrific dishes prepared with a Food Stamps budget for the Great American Family Dinner Challenge.

"Last year’s Great American Family Dinner Challenge was one of the highlights of the Building a Healthier Future Summit," said PHA President and CEO Lawrence A. Soler.  

"This year’s Great American School Lunch Challenge, presented by Cooking Light, will be just as exciting for attendees, who can watch, taste and compare the food they are eating with what was on their tray in their school days."

The competition, said Soler, will be "a great opportunity to raise awareness for the higher nutrition standards that school cafeterias nationwide have adopted to encourage healthier habits among K-12 students.” 

Judges will be Tim Carman, food writer for The Washington Post and recipient of the James Beard Award for food-related columns and commentary; Debra Eschmeyer, co-founder of FoodCorps and recipient of the James Beard Foundation Leadership Award; Scott Mowbray, editor of Cooking Light and award-winning veteran of Time, Inc; Amie Valpone, editor-in-chief of and a Manhattan-based chef; and the three winners of the Healthy Schools Campaign’s 2011 Cooking Up Change contest.
In December, PHA announced that Time, Inc. has signed on as "the exclusive media sponsor" for the conference, and will devote its print and digital properties to promoting the slate of scheduled events, as well as have an "on site" presence at the Summit to promote its own health-related brands.  Novo Nordisk, "the world’s leader in delivering innovative diabetes medicines," and Birds Eye have also signed on as National sponsors.

The Summit will be at the Grand Hyatt Washington; Mrs. Obama's keynote will be at George Washington University.  

*CLICK HERE for links to all posts about the third anniversary.

*Photos by Eddie Gehman Kohan/Obama Foodorama