“The sesame ginger dressing was nicely balanced and really tied your dish together. Good job” said Chef Michelle Poteaux, co-owner and executive pastry chef of Bastille Restaurant in Alexandria.
As one of five judges in Real Food For Kids’ third annual Feeding Academic Success Culinary Challenge held on March 10 at Marshall High School, Poteaux was commenting on the Oriental grilled chicken salad and soba noodle vegetable salad which was the contest’s winning meal prepared by the Marshall Culinary Academy team.
Real Food For Kids’ tasked the three Fairfax County Public Schools culinary academies, Edison, Chantilly and Marshall, to create delicious, grab ‘n’ go meals that could be adapted to school cafeteria menus. The criteria was that the meals had to be nutritionally balanced, with between 750 and 850 calories and contain protein, grains, fruits and or vegetables.
“Our Feeding Academic Success Culinary Challenge is to showcase the FCPS culinary programs, provide experience and food industry networking opportunities for students, and increase awareness among students, parents, and administrators that healthy eating is important and achievable,” says Jenny Hein, executive director of Real Food For Kids. The organization, founded in 2010, is a volunteer, parent-led non-profit that advocates to improve the food in Washington-metro area schools.
The FCPS culinary academies offer two-year culinary arts program certification. They are part of the FCPS academies network, which are each a “school within a school,” and offer advanced technical courses and certifications for students interested in pursuing careers in various disciplines. Many of the culinary arts graduates matriculate to professional culinary schools such as Johnson & Wales, Culinary Institute of America and L’Academie de Cuisine.
The four-member Marshall team members, Stephen Pungello, Anthony Panetta, Alex Cerda Obando and Brian Andrade, captured the Five Star Award that garnered each budding chef a Wüsthof chef’s knife and paring knife and $200. Edison Academy won the Gold Award for its taco salad, along with a Wüsthof paring knife and $50 for each member, and Chantilly, the winner of the two previous annual Real Food For Kids Culinary Challenges, received the Silver Award for its Greek quinoa salad, along with a Wüsthof paring knife and $25 for each teammate.
In addition to Poteaux, the judges were Jay Comfort, executive chef of Lebanese Taverna; Ben Press, a Madison High School student, FCPS School Board representative elect and Real Food For Kids board member; Harris LaTeef, a Langley high school student and FCPS School Board representative, and Maria Perrone, a chef and registered dietitian and nutrition specialist for FCPS Food and Nutrition Services.