Did you know that 40 percent of our food supply is wasted and that each of us throws away nearly 300 pounds of food each year? Chef Steve DaFonseca and Chef Jared Becker are trying to change that by taking the “Waste Warrior” Cooking Challenge to Portsmouth High School on Stop Food Waste Day Friday, April 27. Chef DaFonseca will be cooking up buffalo chickpea tacos that will be challenged by Chef Becker’s beet and sweet potato fries. After watching the live culinary throw down, the students will taste each chef’s recipe, learn more about food waste, and cast their vote for the winning dish. Part of the judging criteria includes measuring all food waste.
Steve DaFonseca grew up in East Providence, RI in a traditional Portuguese family. Watching his mom creating many cultural dishes in the kitchen inspired him to pursue a career in the culinary arts. Chef DaFonseca graduated from Johnson & Wales (Providence, RI) with an A.S. in Culinary Arts and Bachelors in Food Management in 2004. He joined Compass group in 2005 as a chef manager for Citizens Bank. In 2016, Steve transferred to Chartwells K12 and became the Executive Chef for the East Bay, RI School District. In his role, he has been successful in implementing new ideas with the help of his experienced and talented team.
According to Chef DaFonseca, one of the most rewarding parts of his job is working with Nutritionist Nancy Roberts to visit schools and teach kids about healthy eating. He’s also excited about incorporating food waste reduction recipes, techniques, and lessons into his work. See recipe below!
A culinary, retail, and operations professional, Jared Becker has more than 20 years of experience in the foodservice industry, working at hotels, restaurants, and country clubs. As the Regional Executive Chef at Chartwells K12, supporting the Northeast region, Chef Becker oversees food purchasing, culinary direction, and menu development for more than 100 school districts and provides exciting and healthy foods to more than 250,000 students each day. He previously worked with Morrison Healthcare. Chef Becker graduated from The Culinary Institute of America and has certificates in Italian food, ice cream, and dietary management.
He says, “In this country, too many children lack food security, yet we produce far more food than we need. It’s a challenge that we as chefs have the opportunity to address – both in how we cook and how we educate our students and the next generation. While we know food waste happens at the table, many people are unaware that it also happens at the farm. This year we visited local farmers and worked to bring this (perfectly good, delicious) produce to our schools and add it to our menus. I see it as part of my mission to show our teams how to use all of the edible parts of fruits and vegetables – it’s a great way to be creative and sustainable at the same time!” See recipe below!