The Toque Troops, part 2: Recipe for Success crew & a Top Chef Master
Six chefs from the Houston area have been invited to the White House to join First Lady Michelle Obama for the big Friday kick-off event for Chefs Move to Schools, a new component of the Let's Move! campaign. In addition to being local luminaries, all the Texas toques are already doing what Mrs. Obama's national initiative will do--teaching healthy eating and healthy cooking in local schools in an effort to combat childhood obesity. And one has a very big fan following, thanks to a recent star-turn on Bravo TV's Top Chef Masters.
The invited chefs are all active participants in Recipe for Success, one of the largest chef-driven nutrition education programs in the country. The non-profit, founded by chef Gracie Cavnar, is dedicated to combating childhood obesity, and has created innovative programming to educate kids and families about healthy lifestyles and healthy eating. More than 45 of Houston's best chefs are working in the foundation's Chefs In Schools program, reaching about 3,000 elementary students monthly. The program encourages school gardens, and local food sourcing.
In addition to Cavnar, White House invitees include chef Randy Evans, chef/owner of Haven; chef Kiran Verma, chef/owner of Kiran's Restaurant; Michael Kramer, executive chef at Voice restaurant at Houston's ICON Hotel; and chef Barbara McKnight of Culinaire Catering. Recipe for Success board members Stephanie Walker, Rick Terry and Melanie Wilson-Lawson will all be at the South lawn kick-off event, too.
The most high-profile Recipe for Success chef who will be joining Mrs. Obama is Monica Pope, a Houston luminary who has gained a new national audience with a recent star turn as a cheftestant on season two of Bravo TV's Top Chef Masters. Pope is something of a superstar; t'afia, in Houston, is her third restaurant, and she's also a James Beard Award nominee for Best Chef/Southwest, and the only woman chef from Texas to ever be named as one of the best Texas chefs by Food & Wine magazine. Pope is an activist in the farm to table movement, and teaches cooking classes, too. Her new interactive digital cookbook, Eat Where Your Food Lives, is excellent. (Pope, in photo)
Mrs. Obama's Food Initiative Coordinator, Sam Kass, will be appearing on the upcoming season of Top Chef: Washington DC, and State Dinner guest chef Marcus Samuelsson, who guest toqued for the first diplomatic dinner extravaganza of the admin, competed against Pope on Top Chef Masters.
Related: More on Chefs Move to Schools is here. The American Culinary Federation has announced that it is sending 55 chefs to help Mrs. Obama launch Chefs Move to Schools, too. The First Lady announced the new initiative on May 13; her Food Initiative Coordinator, Sam Kass, blogs about the program here.
More information on Chefs Move to Schools:
*For chefs interested in joining the Chefs Move to Schools campaign, there's a form to fill out here on USDA's website, and a form here for interested schools; pairings will be made at the local level. There's more information about the campaign here, on the Let's Move! website.
*The White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity Report is available here [PDF].
*Photo of FLOTUS by Obama Foodorama; Pope photo courtesy of.