To show how meals with fresh food can be made on a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) budget, chefs Nyesha Arrington of Wilshire Restaurant and Stefano de Lorenzo of La Botte will be facing off tomorrow, April 27, at The Gourmandise School in Santa Monica Iron Chef-style. Arrington and de Lorenzo will each be given $22.26 to purchase ingredients at the Santa Monica Farmers Market.
The chefs will be assisted by Santa Monica Mayor Pam O'Connor and Santa Monica Farmers Market Supervisor Laura Avery, joining in as sous chefs during the hour of battle.
"We're going to be there and do whatever they tell us to do," says Avery.
The chef and sous chef pairings will be decided by a coin toss right before shopping for the ingredients at 9 a.m. The winner, according to Avery, will be partnered up with the mayor. The four are scheduled to arrive at the kitchen in The Gourmandise School and begin cooking around 10:15 a.m.
Like the Food Network show the event is modeled after, there will be a running live commentary, sharing information on the ingredients purchased and techniques used.
The event came about as an effort to highlight the accessibility of farmers markets to those on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The cook-off budget -- $22.26 allotted each of the chefs -- mirrors the daily amount given to a family of four. During the cook-off, the audience will be asked to come up with their own shopping list. Three judges will be chosen from the audience to determine the winner.
"We'll hopefully get more people to the farmers market, which is meant for everyone and not just chefs," says Avery. "All of our farmers markets accept food stamps and WIC (Women, Infant, and Children)," says Avery. The Pico Farmers Market features a market match program by Hunger Action Los Angeles, a non-profit organization that provides double the vouchers purchased on food stamp cards.
The challenge will be followed by a panel on food security practices at noon featuring Andy Fisher, a long-time activist working on food justice, Frank Tambarello, Executive Director of Hunger Action Los Angeles, and Robert Gottlieb, Department Chair of Urban & Environmental Policy at Occidental College. Huffington Post contributor Monique Ruffin will also be in attendance to share information on applying for food stamps, as well as shopping and cooking on a SNAP budget.
The cook-off and panel discussion are free and open to the public, but registration to attend is required. To register, check out The Gourmandise School's website or call (310) 656-8800.
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