Last week, students from four Denver Public High Schools competed in our third annual EatWell@School Cooking Competition at the Culinary Labs at Johnson & Wales University.

The competition was part of a unique nine-week after-school program that teaches students basic culinary skills and nutritional education to prepare them for a lifetime of healthy cooking habits. As the culminating event of the program, the competition challenged students from Martin Luther King Jr. Early College, Bruce Randolph School, Manual High School and KIPP Denver Collegiate High School to create a delicious, nutritious and affordable school lunch that aligns with the USDA's school nutrition guidelines and meets Denver Public Schools' budget of less than a dollar per meal. 

For the past nine weeks, culinary students from Johnson & Wales University have served as volunteer mentors to the DPS students in the program. These mentors have instructed the students on a variety of culinary topics including, the intricacies of taste, food safety and sanitation, knife skills, developing a nutritious meal plan, healthy food sourcing and managing a cooking budget. 

During the competition, the meals were judged by a panel of culinary experts, including Chef Jorge de la Torre, Dean of Culinary Education at Johnson & Wales University, Chef Adam Fisher, Area Supervisor, Denver Public Schools, Food and Nutrition Services, Leigh Jones, local restaurant owner of Jonesy’s, The Bar Car and The Horseshoe Lounge, and Paul Tamburello, LiveWell Colorado Board member. I am very thankful to these individuals for donating their time and expertise. Likewise, I am extremely grateful to our EatWell@School Cooking Competition partners – The Anschutz Foundation, Denver Public Schools and Johnson & Wales University – for making this initiative possible and for helping to drive necessary, sustainable change in our fight against childhood obesity in Colorado. 

While all of the teams prepared delicious meals, I am excited to announce that Bruce Randolph School was named the victor of the competition with its chicken panini wrap, colorful coleslaw and Jalapeño Infused Peach Crumble.

Their winning meal will be served at LiveWell Colorado's annual Fundraising Luncheon on December 13 and all four teams will be recognized at the event. Bruce Randolph also will compete on the national stage in Washington, D.C. next spring at the Cooking Up Change national healthy cooking contest presented by the Healthy Schools Campaign. 

I am so proud of all of these students for their hard work and dedication throughout this program. I encourage you to support this school food revolution, try the winning meal and recognize these students’ accomplishment at our upcoming luncheon. If you haven’t done so already, it’s not too late to purchase tickets. Thank you in advance for your support and thank you to our generous Fundraising Luncheon Sponsors: