Celebrity chef Rachael Ray chairs council to develop plant-based recipes in New York schools

NEW YORK (WABC) — New York City public schools are looking to develop plant-based recipes for students, and officials enlist a very famous celebrity chef to help.

Mayor Eric Adams and Schools Chancellor David Banks announced on Tuesday the launch of the city’s first-ever Council of Chiefs, in partnership with Wellness in the Schools (WITS), with Rachael Ray serving as council chair.

The council also includes renowned chefs, culinary industry professionals and food activists.

“Teaching students at a young age to eat healthy, nutritious meals is key to setting them up for success,” Adams said. “The new Council of Chefs will develop delicious, nutritious and culturally relevant meals for schools with direct input from students and parents. Through this partnership with WITS and our amazing team of school feeding workers, we will take school meals to the next level.

The Council of Chefs will develop plant-based and culturally relevant recipes and provide hands-on training for chefs in the New York City Department of Education’s Office of Food and Nutrition Services (OFNS).

They will create more than 100 recipes that will be tested in schools in the five boroughs during the 2022-2023 school year in partnership with the new OFNS cooking ambassadors.

After feedback from students and parents, the recipes will be presented as a monthly seasonal menu and the chefs will then train school cooks to implement the new recipes on-site in all public schools.

“Healthy, nutritious meals are essential to ensuring our students can succeed inside and outside the classroom,” Banks said. “This initiative will help expand our menus while ensuring they meet our strict health standards and reflect the cultures and communities we serve.”

In partnership with local education departments, WITS served more than 86,000 children in nearly 200 schools nationwide during the 2021-2022 school year.

In New York, programs are currently being implemented in 38 schools in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens.

The launch of the Council of Chiefs will expand the programming presence to all DOE schools for the 2023-2024 school year.

The full list of members of the Council of Chiefs is as follows:

–Rachael Ray, President of the Council of Chiefs, television personality, author and philanthropist

–Zoe Adjonyoh, chef, author and media personality

–Kenneth Collins, Chef, Kemited Kitchen

–Ricardo Diaz, Chef and Dietitian Nutritionist, Wellness in the Schools

–Tyler Harvey, Senior Director of Research and Development, Sakara

–JJ Johnson, chef and TV host

–Anup Joshi, Culinary Director, Green Top Farms

–Anita Lo, chef and restaurateur

–Grace Ramirez, chef, activist, author and television personality

–Chef Anthony T. Solano, Founder and Owner, ZoJu, Afro-Latino Vegan Restaurant

–Bill Telepan, Executive Chef and Board of Trustees, Ember, Wellness in the Schools/Bon Appetit Culinary Director for the Metropolitan Museum of Art

–Marion Williams, National Program Director, Wellness in Schools

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Rozella J. Cook