Chef Carlos Anthony and Chef Tara Monsod headlined July’s Seeds for the Future fundraiser (photo: Studio Luniste)

Since its inception, Berry Good Food has experienced an overwhelming amount of support from the chef community here in San Diego. Our Seeds for the Future school garden grant program wouldn’t be possible without the talent, efforts, and resources donated by this generous community. Over the years, restaurant groups like the Puffer Malarkey Collective have been there for us, time and time again, in support of our mission to increase healthy food access for all through our garden and culinary education programs. This past year has been a particularly amazing year for our collaboration as we’ve had their participation in both the fundraising and programming arms of Seeds for the Future.

During the summer of 2022, BGF held a three-part dinner series in locations throughout the county to replenish our school garden grant fund after a three-year pause due to Covid and school closures. Chef Carlos Anthony of Herb & Wood and Chef Tara Monsod of Animae headlined our July fundraising dinner and helped our summer campaign raise a total of $44,000 for our garden and culinary education programs.

Chef Carlos at Juarez Elementary School teaching the kids about sweet, sour, and other taste elements

Flash forward to the present, and, to date, Chef Carlos has instructed two garden-to-table cooking classes and hosted a lively “Chopped”-style competition for our Seeds for the Future recipients. With his knives, ingredients, and spirited smile on hand, Chef Carlos wowed the students of Darnall Charter School and Juarez Elementary with anything-but-textbook lessons on how to build a deliciously balanced, restaurant-quality dish. Chef brought an array of ingredients including dukkah, honey, local citrus, strawberries, crispy onions, black vinegar, and even Humboldt Fog cheese for the students to sample. He then instructed them on how to combine the ingredients seamlessly to create a symphony of flavor in a dish. Finally, Chef challenged each of the classes to plate up their perfect dish using the sweet, sour, creamy, and textural elements they sampled. The students rose to the challenge like true professionals and channeled Chef Carlos’s competitive edge and sharp palate as they worked on their restaurant-quality plates. Ultimately, two winners were crowned with Herb & Wood hats, but everyone came out a winner with their newfound knowledge and full bellies.

For his “Chopped”-style cooking presentation, Chef Carlos gave Granite Hills High School culinary students a taste of the competitive cooking world by challenging them to a 30-minute live fire cook of seasonal spring produce. The students used beautiful citrus and green garlic from BGF Board member and local farmer Mannah Gbeh and vibrant asparagus and English peas from Specialty Produce to plate up their perfect dishes. The students sliced, diced, sautéed, puréed, and deep fried like absolute professionals, transforming farm fresh produce into composed dishes. In the end, a Spring Vegetable Vadouvan Curry lit up Chef Carlos’s tastebuds with the perfect balance of flavors and eye-catching presentation.

Chef Carlos with Granite Hills High School culinary students after their “Chopped”-style cooking competition