Students Compete at Cooking Up Change Challenge


2.3.2014 Nine student teams showcased their culinary skills at LAUSD's second annual Cooking Up Change challenge on January 30th. 

In the cafeteria of the Culinary Arts Building at Los Angeles Trade College in Downtown LA, the teams were busy chopping, mixing and sautéing ingredients all in the hopes of creating an appetizing school meal that would only cost $1 dollar to make and that would, most importantly, be mouth-watering for their fellow LAUSD peers. In addition to the cost constraints, the meals also had to meet the nutritional standards set forth by the USDA for school meals - more fruits, greater variety of vegetables, less sodium and more whole grains.

One student mentioned that the biggest hurdle in the competition was learning to work together as a team, and not necessarily the budget and nutritional constraints that the teams had to work with. In fact, many of the young chefs proudly emphasized how they played around with the flavor profiles of herbs and spices to add flavor to their meals instead of relying just on salt. The challenge not only helped the students develop their team building skills, but it also allowed them the opportunity to feature the many unique flavors making up Los Angeles' diverse cultural and food backgrounds.

Cooking Up Change competitions are being held across the nation, and Jenifer Mendez and Kimberly K. Sanchez of Manual Arts High School will proudly represent LAUSD at the national competition in Washington, D.C. on June 9th, 2014 and they will have the honor of serving their winning school meal to the U.S. House of Representatives. Additionally, the high schools' winning entree - BBQ Chicken Pizza, Spicy Bean Dip, and tropical salad - will be featured on next year's school menu. 

Congratulations to Jenifer and Kimberly, and way to go to LAUSD for taking steps toward making a student driven menu!

Young chefs finishing up their dishes

Right before showtime...Santee's Chicken Cacciatore, veggies and luau parfait.



Santee chefs shake hands with judges.



Young chefs finishing up their meals.


Young Chef Teams:

  • Banning High School: Justine Ambriz, Priscilla Diaz, Bryan Orozco

  • Carson High School: Cecilia Chong, Christina Torres

  • Dorsey High School: Phillip An-Perez, Javon Jackson, Andrea Sanchez

  • Doyle Career and Transition Center: Cecilia Carrillo, Leticia Sanchez, Esteban Tostado Jr.

  • Francis Polytechnic High School: Kevin Escobar, Jose Garcia

  • L.A. Center for Enriched Studies: Daniel Allen, Bryan Back, Felix Blanco

  • Manual Arts High School: Jenifer Mendez, Kimberly K. Sanchez

  • Santee Education Complex: Norberto Cazares Jr., Francisco Granados, Ruben Trejo

  • West Adams Preparatory: Chris Beltran-Chicas, Jose Lugo, Janice Villa

For more information, please contact Ariana Oliva at or 213-482-8200 x203.