Chefs in the Schools

Chefs in the Schools is a Menu Development and Chef Training program, in partnership with the New York City Department of Education’s Office of Food and Nutrition Services and the Mayor’s Office of Food Policy. The initiative builds upon WITS’ 18-year history of working in NYC public schools and the many collective efforts already underway. 

The initiative began with the launch of New York City’s first-ever Chef Council, composed of celebrated chefs, culinary industry professionals, and food activists. The Chef Council has developed scratch-cooked, plant-based, and culturally relevant recipes that will be featured on the NYC public school menu in Fall 2023. 

The Chef Council Members are (in alphabetical order): 

          • Zoe Adjonyoh, Chef and Food Writer
          • ‘Yemisi Awosan, Chef and Founder or Egunsi Foods
          • Kenneth Collins, Chef of Kemited Kitchen
          • Ricardo Diaz, Program Manager, Chef, and RDN, Wellness in the Schools
          • Anup Joshi, Chef of Green Top Farms
          • JJ Johnson, Chef and Television Host
          • Anita Lo, Chef and Restaurateur
          • Tyler Ranson, Sakara Production Chef
          • Grace Ramirez, Chef, Author, and TV Personality
          • Rachael Ray, Chef Council Chair, Television Personality, Author, and Philanthropist
          • Anthony T. Solano, Founder and Owner of ZoJu, Afro-Latino Vegan Restaurant
          • Bill Telepan, Executive Chef, Wellness in the Schools
          • Marion Williams, National Program Director, Wellness in the Schools

The Chef Council recipes were sampled and tested in schools across the city. Six Chef Council recipes are now featured on the Fall NYC public school lunch menu: Caribbean Spiced Jerk Chicken Thigh, Jollof Cauliflower, Kachumber Salad, Pineapple Rice Medley, Roasted Adobo Chickpeas, and Sofrito Rice, and will continue to be featured throughout the school year. 

This fall, 72 new WITS Chefs began our innovative side-by-side training program in NYC public school cafeterias throughout the city paired with our traditional Flagship programming model in a select number of schools. WITS Chefs are training NYC public school cooks on how to create the new Chef Council recipes in addition to culinary skills such as scratch cooking, batch cooking, mise en place, storage and organization, and the why behind WITS’s work to increase scratch-cooked, plant-based, and culturally relevant meals in public school cafeterias. 

Want to join the Chefs in the Schools team? Wellness in the Schools is hiring WITS Chefs to work as culinary instructors in NYC public schools throughout the 5 boroughs! To apply, email your resume to

From kitchen to cafeteria: Chef Council Members Ricardo Diaz, RDN, and Chef Grace Ramirez testing recipes at OFNS Headquarters (left); students sample Chef Anthony Solano’s Pan-Roasted Adobo Garbanzos with Braised Cabbage Slaw at PS 95/Ampark, Bronx.
The Chefs in the School team launching our partnership with NYC Mayor Adams and NYCDOE Chancellor Banks on October 3rd, 2023.