Great write-up on the Pilot Light Project

Posted: October 30, 2012 in Food, Personal

Chicago chef dream team cooks up lunch at Northwest side school <!– facebook like –> <!– AddThis Button BEGIN –>  Share |



Posted by Monica Eng

A private meal prepared by chefs Homaro Cantu, Della Gossett, Jason Hammel, Paul Kahan, Justin Large, Matthias Merges, Ryan Poli, Paul Virant and Erick Williams could fetch tens of thousands of dollars. But the lauded Chicago chefs chose to serve their food at a Northwest Side lunch room last week for free, as part of a day of learning.

The culinarians have started a group called Pilot  Light, which aims to improve the food and nutrition environment in Chicago schools. Inspired by the call to chefs from first lady Michelle Obama last summer, they’re hoping to form a nonprofit or foundation that can work in the schools to make change.


I wrote about their project today as part of story on how the first lady’s Chefs Move to Schools program is playing out around the nation and how some chefs who’d already made progress are inspiring colleagues.


There were some last-minute substitutions but here is the planning menu they used for the meal recently at Disney II Elementary Magnet School on the Northwest Side.


Turkey and chorizo tacos on freshly made tortillas by chefs Paul Kahan and Justin Large

Roasted poblano peppers and cumin corn bread and creamed corn by chefs Ryan Poli and Paul Virant


Salad of petite lettuces, dried cranberries, toasted pumpkin seeds and a citrus vinaigrette, by chef Erick Williams


Sweet potato mash and chile butter, by chef Jason Hammel

Roasted corn helado, masa cookie and Nichols Farm popcorn by chef Della Gossett

Now why didn’t my school lunches ever look like that?

Photos by Nancy Stone and Monica Eng. From top: Chefs (from left) Della Gossett, Paul Kahan, Michael Burke, Ryan Poli, Jason Hammel, Homaro Cantu, Paul Virant and Erick Williams plate lunch for students in school kitchen; Michael Burke and Homaro Cantu prepare masa for tortillas; sample plating of the meals Pilot Light prepared for the school;  Kahan and Poli stroll the lunchroom to talk to kids about food.


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