Clover Sonoma Presents: The Conscious Kitchen Junior Cooking Challenge

Fresh. Local. Organic. Seasonal. Non-GMO.

You may know what these terms mean, but the average fifth grader probably doesn’t. That’s why we’re so excited to be able to do our part and help educate future generations about the impact of these terms as it relates to our agricultural systems, community, and planet. With the help of local nonprofit Conscious Kitchen, along with support from Oliver’s Market and Greenleaf SF, we’re proud to sponsor and present the Conscious Kitchen Junior Cooking Challenge!

Designed for fifth grade students, the main purpose of the Conscious Kitchen Junior Cooking Challenge is to help educate and inspire youth about the importance of agricultural food systems and how to select ingredients based off of the FLOSN method – Fresh. Local. Organic. Seasonal. Non-GMO.

How are we doing this?

We’ve teamed up with well-known Sonoma County chefs who are volunteering their time to mentor and educate fifth graders from McKinley Elementary School in Petaluma, leading up to an ultimate cook-off competition.

These chefs will teach the students about the food preparation and cooking process, inspiring them to cook and eat FLOSN foods. In addition to the chef mentoring, there will be a series of four field trips that will compliment their curriculum around organic farming practices, food labeling, what to look for when shopping for healthy ingredients, and how to prepare a nutritionally balanced meal.

The students will be exposed to lesson plans created by Conscious Kitchen that can be integrated into the classroom curriculum. The program will then culminate in a competition between eight student teams, who will be paired with their chef mentor and tasked with creating a fresh, local, organic meal for a panel of judges.

What field trips will the students experience?

  • -Clover Sonoma Organic Dairy Farm – Students will visit one of our beloved family-farms, the Beretta Family Farm, for a tour and education about farming practices, animal welfare, and organic land management practices.
  • -Restaurant Tours – Each student team will visit their chef’s restaurant to finalize their meal for the competition and learn kitchen skills first hand.
  • -Oliver’s Market – A green grocer store tour will offer the students a better understanding of labels and organic products, so they can become an informed consumer.
  • -Farmers Market – Learning about local, organic farming and how to identify seasonal products at a local farmer’s market is an important element to the FLOSN method.

Who are the chef mentors?

  • -Kendall Jackson, Tracey Shepos Cenami
  • -Spinster Sisters, Liza Hinman
  • -Stark’s Restaurant Group, Mark Stark
  • -Stockhome, Roberth Sundell
  • -Central Market, Tony Najiola
  • -Oliver’s Market, Mark Kowalkowski
  • -MacArthur Place, Cole Dickinson
  • -Seared, Joe O’Donnell

What about the final cook-off competition?

The competition will take place at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone on Monday, April 22nd (Earth Day). There will be eight student teams who will be paired with their local farm-to-table chef and tasked with creating a fresh meal that could be served in a school setting (meets USDA nutritional requirements for the National School Lunch Program). They will be asked to prep, cook, and plate their recipes to a panel of Influential community leaders and judges in front of parents, teachers and community members in Food Network’s Junior Chef style.

We are excited to continue our commitment to empowering future generations as part of our Clover Cares Giveback Program and hope to continue to extend this message throughout our community. Watch for updates on our social channels so you can follow the students’ journey!