Winner Anna MacDonald from Happy Maki with the judges Michael Bremner, Nicole Pisani, Julie Barker and pupils Millie and Spike (from Dorothy Stringer Secondary School), chefs and competition organisers at the Community Kitchen. Credit: XDB photography
The judging panel included Chef Michael Bremner from local restaurant 64 Degrees and Murmur, Nicole Pisani, ex Head Chef at Nopi, London, now School Chef at Gayhurst Primary and leading national hospitality and catering expert, Julie Barker. The panel also included two Year 10 pupils from Dorothy Stringer Secondary School.
"I'm really excited to be involved with the Veg City Challenge. Brighton's got so many great food choices and some incredibly talented chefs and restaurateurs. I think it's important to come together and use this in schools to help teenagers make healthier choices." Michael Bremner, Head Chef at 64 Degrees and Murmur, Brighton
Competition finalists who took part in the cook-off were Brighton Food Factory, Gem's Wholesome Kitchen in collaboration with Big Beach Café, University of Sussex (Compass), Foodini, Happy Maki, Higgidy and Varndean Secondary School.
“The initiative is a great example of progressive thinking in making vegetables attractive and appealing to the next generation; helping schools incorporate veg within their menu planning as an integral ingredient. The quality of recipes put forward were outstanding and, as a judge, I would commend all those who took part” Julie Barker, national hospitality and catering expert
Criteria were set for competition entrants to ensure the meal was nutritious and affordable. The current best sellers for grab-n-go food in secondary schools are pizzas (approx. £1.40), paninis and sausage rolls (approx. 80p), so the winning recipe would need to successfully compete against these popular items.
The judges unanimously chose Happy Maki as the winner for their 'Fully Loaded' teriyaki 'chickn' sushi burrito. It scored highest for taste and portability.
"Bringing healthy foods to kids is something I've been passionate about for some time. I'm just so excited about the opportunities [for schools] that could come from this." Anna MacDonald, Founder and Co-Boss at Happy Maki
"We can really see this recipe being very popular at our school" Spike and Millie, Year 10 students at Dorothy Stringer School.
The winning recipe will be served at several schools and colleges around Brighton and Hove this month to test their teen appeal. Students will have the opportunity to vote based on taste and value for money. If any other organisations are interested in trialling the recipes contact Chloe Clarke at Brighton and Hove Food Partnership.
Chloe Clarke, Project Manager at Brighton & Hove Food Partnership said:
“Trends show an increase in demand for vegetarian and vegan food and this is particularly the case within the universities. This competition is about increasing the amount of vegetables consumed by teenagers, calling on inspiration from our top local chefs.”
School Food Standards in primary schools ensure children are getting vegetables with their main meal and a healthy snack each day. When moving to secondary school, children have more choice and freedom at mealtimes. Providing a level playing field is important for helping children and teens to self-regulate towards a healthier diet.
Sustain are encouraging more areas to launch Veg Cities campaigns and get local businesses and organisations making veg pledges. Veg Cities is a feature campaign of Sustainable Food Cities and is run in partnership with Peas Please.