Healthy Chicken Parm becomes students’ hot ticket to Washington D.C. (video)

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For Wilmer-Hutchins High School juniors Paloma Quiroga and Jeremy Tezano, three years of dedication to the Culinary Arts program is helping them cook up something special.

On Feb. 20, eight student teams from five Dallas ISD high schools competed in the Cooking up Change culinary competition sponsored by the Healthy Schools Campaign. As the first place team, Quiroga and Tezano earned an all-expense paid trip to Washington D.C. in June to compete in the national competition against other high school culinary teams from around the country.

Additionally, their winning entry of a chicken parmesan sandwich on a whole wheat bun, steamed and seasoned green beans tossed with local cherry tomatoes, and banana cream bites (bananas dipped in vanilla yogurt and rolled in graham cracker crumbs) will be served in cafeterias across Dallas ISD next year. Wilmer-Hutchins will become the first campus to add the winning meal this May, said Jennifer DeHoog, Dallas ISD Nutrition Initiatives Coordinator.

“These are two of the most dedicated and eager students in my program,” said Adam Bazaldua, head of the Wilmer-Hutchins culinary arts program.

Quiroga and Tezano got involved with Bazaldua and culinary arts in 9th grade and have remained committed to the program ever since.

“We have done events from bake sales, to delivering food to homeless shelters, to catering lunch or dinner for hundreds of students and staff at events, to live cooking demos on local television,” Bazaldua said. “They have met me on campus at 1:30 in the morning to begin prep to serve Komen supporters breakfast at 5 a.m. in Fair Park, and have stayed on campus until nearly midnight when it’s needed to get the job done.”

The team of Quiroga and Tezano competed against student teams from Bryan Adams, Conrad, Molina, and Townview high schools. The Conrad team of Lauren Aponte, Maricela Sanchez and Sireinia Sanchez took second place, and third place went to the Bryan Adams team of Veronica Galdemez, Sarah Alvarez and Karina Franco. All the winning recipes will appear on the Cooking up Change website.

Bazaldua remains thrilled with his students’ success.

“This is just about the best feeling I have ever had,” he said. “The job of an educator has its small victories daily, but to see the students’ hard work pay off in such a big way is beyond satisfying. We spend just about as much time together as we do with our own families, so hearing their names announced as winners was extremely emotional. We’re going to keep riding this wave and work to continue to make Hutch proud!”

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