No stranger to friendly food competition, Anne Burrell is a seasoned restaurant chef known for her no-nonsense mentorship of a team of recruits on Worst Cooks in America and eager executive-chef hopefuls on Chef Wanted. In Washington, D.C. yesterday, she donned her chef’s hat for a worthy cause, taking the stage next to Iron Chef Jose Garces for a good-natured cook-off in the Great American School Lunch Challenge. This contest, in concert with the Partnership for a Healthier America, celebrates the work of Let’s Move!, an effort headed by First Lady Michelle Obama to reduce the rates of childhood obesity in the United States through a multi-layered plan which includes access to healthy school lunches. It was up to chefs Anne and Jose to work within the confines of a limited budget and dietary restrictions to turn out deliciously wholesome dishes that were not only nutritionally sound but also appealing to kids and their perhaps picky palates.
Proud of the way the Challenge “shines a light on the school lunch program … in a fun and creative way,” Anne told us that the event “puts the task to me as a chef to say, ‘Alright, show us your creativity and what you can do with these nutritional guidelines to feed the kids in 30 minutes. Make it delicious, make it fast and make it fun.’”