Picture this. We’ve just finished our Power Point for our capping presentation tomorrow. The week has finally started winding down, and tonight is the first time we can just have together time. So, naturally, we make some hot chocolate and settle down in our living room. Turn on the TV. Food Network. Chopped is on. Perfect.
But this is a different kind of episode. We learn early on that the four chefs featured in tonight’s episode are not the typical professional chefs usually featured on the show. The contestants are actually four lunch ladies, or school cafeteria chefs, who work in under-privileged school districts.
To our great surprise and excitement, we eagerly listened as we learned that this special episode was sponsored by Share Our Strength, the same foundation that sponsors the Great American Bake Sale. We couldn’t believe it! Well, we could, because this kind of thing is just what Share Our Strength is all about, but we were just so excited to know that because of doing our own bake sale, we were in some way connected to this other great cause. That we were a part of an organization that continues to make a difference to children in our country.
Not only that, but the special guest judge was none other than White House Chef Sam Kass. He, along with First Lady Michelle Obama, is a major supporter of bringing healthy and nourishing food to our nation’s youth. The collaboration of a White House initiative with Chopped and Share Our Strength made us feel even more proud to be a part of such an important cause.
But back to Chopped. The showdown begins, and it is immediately clear that these women mean business. They are competing for a grand prize of $10,000 and you can see how badly they want to win the money to help their schools.
We are pretty big fans of the show, so it was exciting for us to see such an intimate episode. The judges were notably more relaxed in their expectations and demeanor, and were subsequently “wowed” by each of the lunch ladies’ performances.
In the end, Cheryl Barbara, who works at the High School in the Community in New Haven, CT ultimately took the cake (and the grand prize) with her twist on fruit ambrosia-stuffed grilled cheese.
This was a particularly teary episode for some of the more emotional ones in our house (Lina & Molly). It was just that you could see their passion and dedication for their work, how they put their heart and soul into every dish they prepared. They were fighting their way through the baskets of secret ingredients so that the at-risk youth at their schools could get a fighting chance for a bright, healthy future.
If you haven’t done so already, take the pledge to end childhood hunger, along with students from the Marist community, Share Our Strength and the Food Network! It takes less than a minute to sign up and will make a world of difference. Is that too corny? Maybe so. Deal with it. Tis the season, after all.