Eco Top Chef is a program that brings together middle school students and professional chefs in Marin County, California. Together, teams create fresh, local, organic, seasonal, sustainable, and non-GMO food that can be served in a school dining program. The aim is to engage students in conversation about the link between food, health, and the environment and consider how food choices at home, on our school campuses, and in our communities can affect positive change.
Now in its third year, Eco Top Chef Marin pairs each student team with a professional chef to learn about sustainable food – growing, labeling, ingredients, and sourcing – and hosts four field trips.
Students from six Marin County middle schools have been selected to participate in this innovative opportunity. Participants express an interest in healthy food, food equity, and sustainable practices. The program consists of six formal meetings: four field trips and two planning sessions with students and their partner Chef. Field trips include a visit to the Green Gulch Farm, San Rafael Sunday Farmer’s Market with the Agricultural Institute of Marin, a green grocer tour, and a visit to the restaurant of their partner chef.
Student/chef teams are tasked with developing a full menu that meets school food budgets and far exceeds the nutritional values and standard recommended by the USDA. The strict program criteria is based on Teens Turning Green’s The Conscious Kitchen.
The culminating event is the ETCM Challenge on Saturday, May 17, 2014. In partnership with their lead chef, each team will prepare a four-course menu based on wisdom acquired over the course of this project and present their menu to an esteemed panel of judges. One team will be selected as the ETCM 2014 Champion. Peers, family, school faculty, and community members are invited to attend the Challenge and share in a tasting following the presentation. Our aim is to see healthy, sustainable food choices integrated into school food programs across the country.
Kent Middle School, Kentfield
Marin Country Day School, Corte Madera
Bayside MLK Academy, Marin City
San Domenico Middle School, San Anselmo
White Hill Middle School, Fairfax
Willow Creek Academy, Marin City
Maggie Weber-Striplin Head Chef, The Conscious Kitchen, Marin City
Jason Hull Executive Chef, Marin Country Day School, Corte Madera
Sebastian Lowrey Executive Chef, Piatti, Mill Valley
Sascha Weiss Executive Chef, The Plant Café Organic, Mill Valley
Brian Bowen Chef de Cuisine, Cavallo Point Lodge, Sausalito
Tera and Alfredo Ancona Owners and Executive Chef, Cibo, Sausalito
Goals and Rewards:
- Engage students, and teachers in collaborative work to transition school food programs from conventional to sustainable
- Inform all participants about the benefits of fresh, local, organic, seasonal, sustainable, non-GMO food
- Highlight the meaning and importance of “locally grown” through farm and farmers market field trips
- Develop student skills to become strong advocates for fresh produce and food options in school dining facilities, lunch, and snack programs
- Ensure understanding of the direct relationship between the healthy food and a healthy mind, body, and soul
Benefit for Students:
- Increased wisdom about the importance of eating fresh, local, organic, seasonal fruits and vegetables
- Adoption of healthier eating habits and spreading the word
- Openness to trying new foods and choosing healthier, high-quality foods more often
- Knowledge from chefs about food preparation, how to read and follow a recipe, and food safety
- Engagement in a leadership opportunity and the opportunity to share with peers and community
- Introduction to the Teens Turning Green organization along with opportunities for social action projects
Pictures from ETCM 2013!
Our updated Eco Top Chef Marin Toolkit.
Who are this year’s chefs?