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Chef Cory Oppold and Chef Monty Staggs SFE - small.jpg

Chopped champion chef creates vegan dish for K-12 use

Chef Cory Oppold, who won $10,000 as a champion on the Food Network show Chopped, recently collaborated with management company Southwest Food Service Excellence to develop a vegetarian tostada for use in school meal programs.

Southwest Food Service Excellence (SFE), an Arizona based FM Top 50 contract firm that is one of the largest providers of food management services to the K-12 market, is working with several celebrity chefs in the districts where it operates to enhance next school year’s menu items. One recent result was a collaboration with Chef Cory Oppold, who won $10,000 as a champion on the Food Network show Chopped, to develop a vegetarian tostada dish.

Oppold’s vegetarian tostada is layered with black bean hummus as well as corn salsa and topped off with an avocado puree. The recipe is inspired by creations he makes for his pick-up, home delivery and in-home dining service, Simmer Down. 

“Building your own tostada is not only fun for kids, but also healthy,” he says. “Exposing kids to healthier ingredients will allow them to seek them out as a habit, which eventually will lead to a healthy lifestyle.”

Oppold’s collaboration with SFE is part of an upcoming initiative that is currently in research and development.

“We’re developing from scratch recipes that are not only appealing to students’ palates but also provide adequate nourishment for classroom success,” says Chef Monty Staggs, CEO of SFE. “Arizona has so many influential chefs and SFE is excited to collaborate with them to provide an elevated culinary experience for our students.”

“SFE’s commitment to fresh, from scratch food compelled me to work with them on this initiative,” offers Oppold, who grew up on a dairy farm in rural Illinois. “I started becoming interested in the quality of school food, when my daughter started school. I would do demonstrations for her fellow students, teaching them that healthy could also be delicious.”

SFE does serve-up traditional student favorites like a healthier version of chicken tenders and pizza but has also incorporates regional inspired meals that cater to not only the location, but also the culture. In addition, the company has launched several new Food Truck concepts such as The Truck Mobile Grill and is developing new convenience and coffee shop concepts to be launched in 2022.

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