Beard, Clinton foundations teach healthy cooking skills

The James Beard Foundation has partnered with the Clinton Foundation to launch America Cooks with Chefs: The 800 Calorie Challenge, a cooking competition focused on healthy eating and nutrition.

WASHINGTON: The James Beard Foundation has partnered with the Clinton Foundation to launch America Cooks with Chefs: The 800 Calorie Challenge, a cooking competition focused on healthy eating and nutrition.

The goal of the effort is to combat increasing national obesity rates and illnesses induced by poor nutrition. Burson-Marsteller sister firm Palisades Media Ventures is working on the campaign.

The initiative is pairing six contestants with celebrity chef “trainers,” including James Beard Award winners Tony Mantuano and Mary Sue Milliken of Bravo's Top Chef Masters.

Contestants will attend the 2015 Clinton Health Matters Initiative conference in La Quinta, CA, where they will take part in a live cooking challenge. At the event, a celebrity panel will pick the best nutrient-dense meal at less than 800 calories that is made in one hour with the ingredients provided.

For Palisades, the effort is one way to engage the public to make healthier food choices at a time when illnesses such as diabetes are on the rise. The contest will show the average American that they, too, can make healthy meals any night of the week, said Ken Stern, co-founder and president of the firm.

The participating chefs have thousands of Twitter followers, said Stern, who added that even former President Bill Clinton has discussed the campaign. There is also an online component at AmericaCooksWithChefs.com and on Twitter through the account @AmericaCooks, which is using the hashtag #800calories.

“We're relying on the power of a lot of our partners,” he added.

Kristin Burkhalter, director at Palisades, said the initiative's online push will grow when another chef is chosen.

“The main message is that making changes in your everyday life is simple, and these chefs can show you how to make those simple changes that [the American public] may know but aren't paying attention to,” she said. “We really want to make sure that we select six contestants that reflect American diversity so we can really reach people.”

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