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Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

Fresh From Florida Student Chef Cook-Off

Congratulations to Gigi Rivera and Tony Alvarez for their winning dish in this year's Fresh From Florida Student Chef Cook Off, T&G's Burrito.

Tony Alvarez, Gianna Rivera Win “Fresh From Florida” Student Chef Cook-Off

The Fresh From Florida Student Chef Cook-Off is an annual contest in which students create and prepare an original recipe that uses fresh Florida products and meets the National School Lunch Program nutrition standards. Students competed for the 2017-2018 school year at locations around the state and prepared their dish on January 30, 2018, in Tallahassee for a panel of celebrity judges. In addition to having their meal served in school cafeterias, students on the winning team received a $1,000 Florida 529 Savings Plan and a day in the kitchen with celebrity Chef Art Smith.

Recipes were required to meet National School Lunch Program meal pattern and nutrition standards, and students had to incorporate at least two Florida ingredients and one USDA commodity item. They were selected based on taste, appearance, creativity, best and most use of local ingredients, best and most use of USDA commodity foods, school food service appropriateness, and execution. The finalists’ recipes are as follows:

2017-2018 Finalists' Recipes

Recipe Requirements

Each recipe must:

  • Meet National School Lunch meal pattern and nutrition standards.
  • Incorporate at least two Florida ingredients and one USDA commodity item from the approved list [ Adobe PDF Document 984.06 KB ].
  • Be prepared in under two hours.
  • Be replicable by school nutrition professionals.

Additional Requirements

  • Entrants must submit a nutritional analysis with their recipe ( template provided [ Microsoft Excel Document 49.50 KB ]).
  • Dishes may not include nuts.

Judging Criteria

  • Taste — kid-friendly and flavorful
  • Appearance — presentation on the plate
  • Creativity — originality of the ingredients used, how dish is prepared, how it is presented
  • Best and Most Use of Local Ingredients — highlighting local and seasonal foods
  • Best and Most Use of USDA Commodity Foods
  • School Food Service Appropriate — time/cost affordability, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services nutritional analysis falls within dietary specifications (i.e., appropriate calories, low in saturated fat and sodium)
  • Execution — use of proper safe food handling as well as appropriate dress, shoes while preparing

Tips for Success

  • Talk to your school food service staff about what makes a great school food recipe. Food service directors, cafeteria managers and staff are able to provide information about what food items are commonly used, what equipment restraints cafeterias have, etc.
  • Let Food, Nutrition and Wellness Chef Paula point you in the right direction. Chef Paula travels the state training cafeteria staff and creating recipes that meet the National School Lunch Program nutrition standards. She is available to help answer any questions you have about the nutrition standards calculator, Florida products, commodity items and more.
  • Review the USDA standardized recipes that schools are currently using. These can be great inspiration for your team to get started!