Concord and Clayton score big at Cook-off

Cookoff_8265Nine Contra Costa cities faced off Iron Chef-style last Thursday at the 5th Annual Mayors Healthy Cook in Todos Santos Park.

Mayors and reps from the participating cities teamed up with a chef of their choice and sous chefs from the Mt. Diablo High School culinary arts program. Each team started with the same box containing chicken breasts and an array of fruits and vegetables chosen that afternoon from the Farmers Market. They were challenged to design and prepare a full menu in an hour and a half using only what they were given.

The chefs could use herbs and spices from their own cache and they did not have to use everything in the box.

The teams bring all their own cooking grills, pots, plates and decorations.

Team Concord, headed by Habib Jacifi of Bravo Bistro walked away with top honors for a menu starring chicken breasts in a saffron sauce, a Moroccan style quinoa cous cous and grilled eggplant with mushrooms.

Cookoff_8262Clayton was not to be completely outdone, however. Led by Oakhurst Executive Chef John Evans, Team Clayton’s Marinated chicken with garlic and herbs and a saffron infused quinoa with corn succotash took the top honor for Taste and Presentation.

Second Place went to Antioch (Lone Tree Restaurant) and third went to the city of Pittsburg (La Veranda).

The Wellness City Challenge was founded by Cindy Gershen who, after a long battle with her own weight, found that “changing food, changes everything.

The goal of the Wellness Challenge, says Pamela Singh, Executive Director, is to partner with schools and cities, to change the focus of food from microwave quick foods to fresh, homemade cooking.

“It’s great that the cities are participating,” says Singh. “And, it’s working in the schools.”

“Kids are now going home with new ideas about healthy eating and educating the parents.”

For more information on the Wellness City Challenge, go to