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This Chef Is Giving School Lunches a Major Upgrade

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Photo: Brigaid

At the world-renowned restaurant Noma in Copenhagen, chef Dan Giusti created culinary masterpieces. But what he prizes most is the simple satisfying lunches he and his team cook up for hungry schoolkids. 

I spent my life working in fine dining, catering to a very select clientele. But what I really wanted to do was feed those who need it most: low-income schoolkids. That's why three years ago I founded Brigaid, a company with the mission to change the way students eat. We recruit professional chefs to lead school kitchens and create lunches that taste good and are good for you. (Related: The One Healthy Ingredient This Chef Uses In Basically Every Meal)

It's a tough task: You're trying to get kids to try new, healthier things, but if you go too far, you'll lose them. When we started, a lot of the food was what we thought we should be cooking. But the kids were quick to give us feedback when they didn't like it! Now our menus are based on things we know they'll enjoy, and we push forward from there.

Take my favorite dish–barbecued chicken with homemade sauce, warm cornbread, and fresh potato salad. I love it because it meets the strict nutritional guidelines we have to follow, we can make it for the $1.25 we're budgeted per lunch, and it's wholesome, delicious, and comforting. Most important, the kids like it. It's incredibly gratifying to serve them a meal that's well-made and watch them really enjoy it. (Related: 14 Kid-Inspired Healthy Lunch Ideas for Grown-Ups)

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