Three SoCal students win school culinary contest with tasty chicken quesadilla

Students from Santee Education Complex recently won the Los Angeles County School District culinary high school cooking competition called Cooking up Change, sponsored by Healthy Schools Campaign.

Sophomores Tochtli Espinoza, David Martinez, and junior Jennifer Perez beat out six other teams in the district. Their winning dish, chicken quesadilla with a side dish of a cumin lime crema slaw and a pineapple downtown will be served at all LAUSD schools next semester.

"We were going to make a spaghetti dish but we decided to mix part of our culture into our dish so we came up with this," Martinez said.

The team worked under the guidance of culinary instructor Chef Lisbeth Caiaffa, who made sure the students stuck to the guidelines and learned the nutritional benefits of using fresh, local, balanced foods.

Cooking up Change is a culinary competition founded by Healthy Schools Campaign that challenges student chefs to create healthy and delicious school meals that their peers will enjoy, while meeting strict nutritional standards and a tight budget, about $1 per meal.

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The winners now go on to an all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C. to compete at the national competition.

Some of these students have never traveled outside of their city, so for some students, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to meet congressional leaders and visit the sites around Washington.

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