Chef Jason Smith of 18 Seaboard was awarded the Iron Carrot at Lunch In, an Iron Chef-style competition held at Underwood Elementary School on Thursday evening for his winning healthy lunch creation featuring rutabaga, the secret ingredient! Chef Smith prevailed over Chef Todd Whitney of J. Betski’sand won over the taste buds of six student judges and one teacher in the first Lunch In event held in Wake County.
Sponsored by Advocates for Health in Action (AHA), Lunch In is designed to raise awareness and engage the community to advocate for fresh and healthy school lunches in Wake County. “It was great to see so many kids and their families enjoying healthy, local food—especially rutabaga!” said Laura Aiken, AHA director. “For some, this was their first experience with rutabaga, a locally grown vegetable. Educating children and their families about healthy eating, the foods available to them locally in Wake County and how we can work together to get more local foods into schools is what Lunch In is all about.”
Working in the school kitchen, Chef Smith prepared a salad with spring greens and radishes, rice with rutabaga and spicy sausage balls in less than an hour. Chef Whitney prepared a rutabaga puree topped with greens and kabobs of apple slices, bacon and veggies. Underwood students had participated in a healthy recipe contest previously, and one winner from each grade was selected to serve as a judge in the Iron Carrot competition. The judges agreed all the foods were winners in the close competition.
Underwood students and their families enjoyed cooking demonstrations and local food, gathered healthy meal and snack ideas, chatted with local North Carolina farmers and learned about school meals and policy reform.
Aiken said AHA is working with a team of volunteers in the community to make fresh, local, and healthy food choices an integral part of Wake County students’ school day. AHA plans several other Lunch In events at Wake County schools this year with other local chefs. Schools that are interested in hosting such a competition may contact AHA.
“Engaging community members helped make Lunch In such a great event,” Aiken said. Underwood parents and concerned community members Amy Gilbert, Tia McLaurin, Holly Taylor, Stephen Mangano, Zely & RitzChef Sarig Agasi and Katherine Andrew of the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle worked together with AHA to plan and carry out the competition. The idea for the Iron Carrot competition grew out of general interest from the community and AHA’s screening last fall of the documentary Lunch Line highlighting the history, challenges, and opportunities associated with the National School Lunch Program.
About Advocates for Health in Action
Advocates for Health in Action (AHA) is a group of more than 50 diverse organizations and community members who are shaping the environment throughout Wake County so healthful eating and physical activity are the way of life. AHA works to achieve its mission by shaping policy and environments that ensure available and affordable access to healthful foods and physical activity for all community members. www.AdvocatesForHealthInAction.org