On Monday, August 8, Common Threads hosted a Community Top Chef cooking competition in Los Angeles. Sponsored by Kaiser Permanente, this event celebrated the upcoming launch of Common Threads’ High School Career Exploration pilot program, a collaboration with LAUSD, Susan Miller Dorsey High School, and Chef Sonja Mason. Common Threads’ forthcoming pilot program will be hosted by Susan Miller Dorsey High School and Chef Sonja Mason, the head of the culinary program at Dorsey. Sonja is an experienced chef and advocate for good nutrition, and her commitment to culinary education at Dorsey High School is a key part of our partnership. 

At the August 8 event, Common Threads along with Chef Sonja and her team turned the Dorsey High courtyard into an outdoor Top Chef kitchen as community members, students, and celebrity chefs gathered for a friendly competition. The event was emceed by Chef Antonia Lofaso and Lilly Rocha, CEO of LA’s Latino Restaurant Association. We were joined by LA Weekly, ABC7, Our Weekly and numerous media outlets. Alongside the cooking competition, Common Threads showcased a Small Bites snack-making demo for attendees. Chef Instructor Milton Guinses and students from Glenfeliz Elementary including Felix Gonzalez-Celaya, Olivia Pedraza, and Aleah Quinery prepared refreshments to share with guests as they watched the competition.

The cooking competition featured four teams each composed of a Top Chef alum and a student chef from Dorsey High School. Each team was given an original Common Threads recipe, with fifty minutes to prepare the recipe and incorporate the secret ingredient: jicama. Team One featured Chef Shirley Chung and student chef Alex Maya making vegetable stir fry. Team two featured Chef Elizabeth Falkner and student chef Drew Crisp Solomon preparing the cauliflower rice bowl. Team three featured Chef Govind Armstrong and student chef Brian Morales, making fish tacos. The final team featured Chef Stephanie Izard and student chef Guadalupe Hernandez Santiago.

The competition concluded with guest judges tasting the culinary creations of each team. Judges included Chef Sonja Mason-Briscoe of Dorsey High School and Les Affaires Events, Nichol Whiteman of the LA Dodgers Foundation, and Assemblymember Isaac Bryan of California 54th Assembly District. Judges named Chef Stephanie Izard and student chef Guadalupe Hernandez Santiago the winning team for their take on the Common Threads’ Doro Wat recipe. 

Common Threads is grateful to be innovating and revitalizing our work in Los Angeles. We are thankful for all who joined us for this special event, and to Kaiser Permanente for their generous sponsorship. Special thanks to the Top Chefs, students, parents, community leaders, and the LAUSD and Susan Miller Dorsey staff, all of whom helped us make the day a success.