Eco Top Chef is a program that engages middle school students and professional chefs in a collaboration that takes place in Marin County, California. Together they 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 to think about how our food choices at home, on our school campuses and in our communities can affect change.
In its third year, Eco Top Chef Marin brings together middle school students from throughout Marin county, hosts four field trips, and pairs each student team with a with professional chef to learn about sustainable food – growing, labeling, ingredients, and sourcing.
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.
These student/chef pairings will be tasked with developing a full menu that meets the school food budgets and far exceeds the nutritional values and standard recommended by the USDA. The program criteria is based on Teens’s Turning Green’s The Conscious Kitchen.
The culminating event is the ETCM Challenge on Saturday, May 17. Each team, in partnership with their lead chef will prepare a four course menu based on the wisdom acquired over the course of this project. Each team will present their menu to an esteemed panel of judges. One team will be selected as the ETCM 2013 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 these 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, Conscious Kitchen, Marin City
Scott Werner Executive Chef, Tamalpie, Mill Valley
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
Tera and Alfredo Ancona Owners and Exec Chef, Cibo, Sausalito
Goals and Benefits:
- 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, and Non-GMO food
- Highlight “locally grown” through farm and farmers market field trips
- Work with students on developing skills to become strong advocates for fresh produce and food options in their school dining facilities, lunch, and snack programs
- Understand the relationship between the healthy food and healthy mind, body, and soul
Benefit to Students:
- Increased wisdom about the importance of eating fresh, local, organic, seasonal fruits and vegetables
- Adopting healthier eating habits and spreading the word
- Trying new foods and choosing healthier, high-quality foods more often
- Learning from chefs about food prep, how to read and follow a recipe, and food safety
- Engage in a leadership opportunity and share the experience with peers and community
- Introduction to the Teens Turning Green organization along with opportunities for social action projects