Local Spotlight

Houston's Best Recipe for Success

Chef Monica Pope at MacGregor Elementary School. Photos by Carlos Meltzer

There's alot of talk these days about problems and solutions. The economy, the environment, healthcare, education. But as we all know there appears to be a lot more problems than there are solutions. And alot more talk than there is action.

Fortunately, there's an organization in Houston that is providing real solutions to a growing health problem: childhood obesity.

The mission of the nonprofit Recipe for Success (RfS) Foundation is to combat childhood obesity and encourage long-term health by educating kids about how to understand, appreciate and eat their food.

Through a unique collaboration between the City of Houston, Houston ISD, and many of Houston's top chefs, RfS has created programs such as Chefs in Schools in which a Houston chef visits a local school and teaches monthly classes on how to cook healthy and delicious snacks and meals.

Another program is the Recipe Garden in which participating elementary schools plant, tend, and harvest their own produce from gardens created on school grounds. The produce is then used in recipes for "seed-to-plate" school lunches and snacks.

New for 2009 is the Eat it! Food Adventures program which will solicit student-created recipes from Houston area elementary schools. Recipes will be judged by chefs, nutritionists and RfS board members with student winners participating in an Iron Chef-style cookoff. A cookbook and video featuring the winning recipes will be made available for sale on a retail basis (proceeds benefiting RfS) and distributed to schools at no cost.

And one of the great things about RfS is that it's not just for chefs and schools. Anyone can donate or volunteer. Visit the www.recipe4success.org website for donation and volunteer opportunities.

Recently I attended two of the many events that RfS sponsors throughout the year.

RfS kicked off its 2009 "Gala in Small Bites" fundraising drive with an event at Saks Fifth Avenue featuring Houston chefs Bruce Molzan of Ruggles Green, Michael DeiMaggi of Max's Wine Dive, and Giancarlo Ferrara of Arcodoro.

Chefs Bruce Molzan, Giancarlo Ferrara, and Michael DeiMaggi.

The food for the event was provided by Central Market with drinks provided by Grey Goose Vodka and Houston's own custom winery, Water 2 Wine. All proceeds for the event benefited the Recipe for Success Foundation.

Then the following Sunday I biked to the Discovery Green Farmers Market where RfS had set up a booth and an impromptu cooking station. Chef Ryan Pera of The Grove (whose restaurant is just a few steps away) collaborated with students from Houston's N.Q. Henderson Elementary school to make a fantastic Vegetable Quinoa Salad.

Chef Ryan Pera of The Grove with students from Henderson Elementary.

Judging by the large crowd watching the cooking demo and the speed with which the Quinoa Salad samples were snapped up and eaten, I'd say Chef Pera (and the Recipe for Success Foundation in general) is doing a great job teaching Houston kids how to make fresh, healthy and delicious meals.

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J.C. Reid
Contact: J.C. Reid