If you feel in need of inspiration, check out this repost from The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Health Initiative website featuring a 90 second video that we just had to share. We look forward to watching for more news of Leon Sanchez as he pursues a career in culinary arts.


The Next Generation of Cooks Are Making Healthy Food for Their Families and Their Schools

Inspired by his grandmother’s insistence that he do something positive with his life, student and chef Leon Sanchez of Chicago turned to cooking “as a door, a window, to further myself as I’m becoming a better man and a better person.”

Leon often cooks for his family, and he takes every opportunity to make healthy meals for his younger brother, who suffers from diabetes. Leon changes up traditional recipes by using wholesome, low-fat ingredients—a tactic he says anyone can use to make more nutritious meals that still taste good. He believes schools should serve healthy lunches to help students lead longer, happier lives.

Leon put his belief into practice on the team that represented his school, Washington High School, in the 2013 Cooking up Change contest, hosted by Healthy Schools Campaign, a Chicago nonprofit. The event called on students from across the country to develop healthy meals that can also be prepared by schools. He and his team cooked up Mexican-inspired dishes—chicken rancheros, corn elotes, and tropical de fruta—that delivered on taste while also meeting the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s updated nutrition standards for school meals.

Eight cities hosted contests last year—Chicago, Denver, Jacksonville (FL), Los Angeles, Orange County (CA), Memphis (TN), St. Louis, and Winston-Salem (NC).

After finishing high school, Leon plans to continue his culinary education by joining the Marines and serving as a cook, and then studying at the Art Institute of Virginia Beach. Leon hopes to keep learning about healthier cooking and adapting recipes to make them more nutritious.

Leon says that participating in the Cooking up Change contest allowed him to “make his grandma proud and everyone who knows me proud.”

Watch the video above to learn more about Leon. For more information about Cooking up Change, visit www.CookingupChange.org.

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