UPDATE: HISD Culinary Students Put Their Skills on the Line

Categories: News

Photo courtesy of Cooking up Change
HISD will compete in Cooking up Change for the first time on April 12.
UPDATE: The Westside High School culinary team won the Houston District Cooking up Change competition this past weekend. Barrosha Boykin, Santiago Castaneda and Andrew Winkle prepared a chicken chili sandwich with fajita chicken strips, black beans and chili powder and a sauce made of tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, and red and green bell peppers on a whole wheat roll; they called their main dish the "Lonestar Chicken Chili Sub." The team also made a parfait of toasted rolled oats, honey, fruit cocktail and vanilla low-fat yogurt, as well as a side dish of grilled carrots and zucchini.

This team will travel to Washington, D.C., to compete in the national competition on June 9. The Westside High School team representing Houston ISD will compete against the winning teams from Los Angeles and Orange County, Calif., Orlando and Jacksonville, Fla., Winston-Salem, N.C., Memphis, Tenn., Wichita, Kan., and Little Rock, Ark.

You may not know it, but the Houston Independent School District has an incredible culinary arts program, and on Saturday, April 12, seven teams of culinary students from four HISD schools will compete in Cooking up Change at the local level in hopes of advancing to the national contest in Washington D.C. The local competition takes place at Rice University and is open to the public, beginning with tastings from noon until 1 p.m., followed by the judging. According to Ray Danilowicz, HISD's food services executive general manager, the competition requires students to create their best dishes following national school lunch standards, and this is the first time Houston schools have taken part.

"It's going to feature culinary students from ten large school districts from around the country," Danilowicz says. "And what it's designed to do is to get culinary students involved in cooking meals that conform to the type of meals that are served in school lunches, conforming to national school lunch standards, which means they have to meet very, very rigid nutritional guidelines. They have to be the type of meal that can be cooked in school cafeterias with limited equipment -- you know, follow basic steps with [the] type of ingredients that are available in the program."

Photo courtesy of Cooking up Change
Cooking up Change began in Chicago seven years ago.
The seven teams of culinary students are representing four schools: Westside High School, Harper Alternative School, Davis High School and Barbara Jordan High School. The students from each school will present their dishes to a panel of judges, and the winning team will receive a trip to Washington D.C. to compete in the national contest. Danilowicz says the winning team will present their dish to Congress.

In addition, the winning dish, along with its side dishes, will be added to the HISD high school lunch menus next school year.

"But, quite frankly, we are going to take a look at the ideas we get from all the teams," Danilowicz says. "Not that we're going to promise that we'll use all of them, but we're going to take the ideas from all these students, and see where we go with them and share them with our chefs here."

The teams spent months fine-tuning their recipes (main course and sides), adhering to strict restrictions on fat, sodium, sugar and calories. In addition, each meal must cost out at $1 or less.

This story continues on the next page.

Location Info


Rice University

6100 Main St., Houston, TX

Category: General

Westside High School

14201 Briar Forest Drive, Houston, TX

Category: General

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