Celebrity chefs Scott Miller, left, Emily Brooks and Corey Wry faced off at the "Everybody Wins! CT" school food competition Saturday at the Greater Hartford Jaycees Boathouse. (MaryEllen Fillo, [email protected] / November 15, 2010)

Everyone Wins! 'Night of the Chefs: Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds' Sponsors Cookoff

Java: MaryEllen Fillo

November 16, 2010

It's cafeteria food one can only dream of — schnitzeled chicken parmesan salad, fresh pork quesadilla with fresh vegetables, baked stuff apples with cheddar cheese, a banana smoothie and coconut-pineapple marinated chicken. Yum.

Those were the meals served up by celebrity chefs Emily Brooks, Scott Miller and Corey Wry Saturday at the Everyone Wins! CT "Night of the Chefs: Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds" event at the Greater Hartford Jaycees' Community Boathouse at the riverfront.

Each of the three chefs had to use a limited number of fresh ingredients to prepare a suitable-for-cafeteria school lunch for less than $2.10 per serving, a contest aimed at proving that good food at an affordable price can be served as part of school lunch programs. The judges — including Java, Sustainable Food Systems guru John Turenne, WDRC-FM show host Mike Stevens and UConn Dietetic Program member Ellen Shanley — were "forced" to eat it all and then choose a winner.
While Brooks, founder of Edibles Advocate Alliance, brought the best equipment, including a couple of great copper pots, and Wry, who owns Catsup & Mustard in Manchester, was the most personable and resourceful, given that he had to cook on a bad burner, it was Miller, of West Hartford's Max Oyster Bar, who garnered the most points and may have set a new benchmark when it comes to digging into a Styrofoam tray with a spork.

Of course it can be good, said Miller, who admitted he was usually a brown bagger for his own school lunches in Woodbridge. But that didn't stop him from preparing his lunch of marinated chicken, poached apple with fruit cup and banana smoothie for the award-winning price of $1.74 per serving.

While the event featured an array of foodies, including emcee Prudence Sloane, it was an unexpected guest judge who was probably the most qualified to pass judgment on the entries.

Twelve-year-old Isaiah Bernard, who aspires to be a chef, was tough when it came to rating the foods but deemed Miller's meal the best.

"Pizza or anything that doesn't give me a stomachache is my favorite school lunch,", who attended the event with his mother. "But this is all good," he said, giving Miller top marks. "I wish we could get food like this at my school."