Manhattan House chef Diana Stavaridis recently hosted aspiring chefs and students from Pacific Elementary School, working with the fifth graders to create a student-inspired dish as part of the GrowingGreat Jr. Chef’s program. The dish—a garden salad with gem lettuce, bacon, avocado, radish, seed cracker, sorrel pesto and cashew milk ranch dressing—will be featured on Manhattan House’s menu through March.

GrowingGreat’s mission statement is “To empower every child to grow up healthy through science-based garden and nutrition and education.” GrowingGreat has teamed with elementary schools in Manhattan Beach and around Los Angeles to inspire children and adults towards a healthy lifestyle.

The GrowingGreat Chefs program begins at kindergarten, when students plant in their school’s garden. By fourth and fifth grade, they join “focus groups” held by Stavaridis. They then create a healthy dish using fruits and vegetables they grow themselves.

GrowingGreat is hosting its annual Farm to Table benefit Saturday, June 4, featuring Chef David LeFevre from MB Post, Chef Michael Fiorelli of Love & Salt and Stavaridis. The event takes place in Playa Vista at the offices of 72 and Sunny, 12101 W. Bluff Creek Drive.

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