Sysco Recipes Get in SHAPE!

Sysco Shape November 2012

“We need more smiley faces,” chanted the third graders from a local elementary school, as they eagerly waited the next chef creation from Sysco Corporation’s first SHAPE Kids Healthy Recipe Contest.

“Can anyone think of a creative name for this recipe?” asks Senior Director of Product Marketing Tammy McElroy, as she helped expedite the passing of plates for each child to sample and judge. Recipe names seemed to bounce off the wall, despite each child’s attempt to contain their excitement over this “not-your-everyday” extracurricular activity.
More than 40 children of Sysco associates, ages 6 through 12, volunteered to participate in the judging of the six semifinalist recipes submitted by Sysco teams all over the country. Teams were comprised of culinary chefs, business review specialists, registered dietitians, and more, as each of their backgrounds contributed to the goal of creating kid-approved recipes packed with nutritious, delicious ingredients.

“It was difficult to narrow down all the recipes we received. Over 500 recipes were submitted,” said Valerie Hoover, Nutrition Specialist. Recipe guidelines proved challenging for most, as they were required to adhere to the nutritional criteria outlined by the National Restaurant Association’s Kids Live Well program.

Chef Neil Doherty, Senior Director of Culinary Development at Sysco Corporate added, “It was a daunting task, but we managed to choose 6 semifinalist recipes to proceed to the next stage in the contest. I look forward to seeing the creative recipes and plate presentations come to life on the day of the contest, and the looks on each child’s face as they try a bite!”

Karen Horsley, Senior Director of Healthcare and Nutrition Services, solicited the help of a team of six dietitians to verify the nutritional compliance of each recipe and categorize each by meal type. “You could tell that each team went above and beyond with their recipe submissions. The enthusiasm was evident in their attention to detail.”
With all the news surrounding kids’ health and school lunch programs, discussions abound the corporation’s conference rooms as to how Sysco would play a role in these positive campaigns. “We needed to be proactive in establishing a platform for helping customers meet the growing demand for nutritious and “good-for-you” foods and recipes to incorporate into their menu offerings,” advised Tammy.

“It seemed like a great opportunity to take a stand in the industry and promote kids’ health through a brand in need of some revitalizing. Our goal was to have SHAPE [Sysco Healthy and Positive Eating] re-launch with healthy kids’ menus as its first initiative,” explained Pebble Anderson, Manager of Brand Development.

So, in conjunction with Sysco’s annual health fair, the SHAPE team decided to host the first annual Kids Healthy Recipe Contest, and the turnout was beyond belief. “We wanted the whole event to be a learning experience for the kids, so we engaged them in interactive games and handed out MyPlate Tips to both the kids and their parents. Our hope is that the communication will be sparked between kids and their families to start eating healthier and requesting the same from the restaurants they patronize,” says Lauryn Langhorne, Healthcare Specialist.

The event certainly proved that healthy eating can be fun and tasty at the same time. Combating the obesity crisis by reaching out to kids in their formative years is bound to have a lasting impression. “If we teach children healthy habits and how to make healthy choices, and also equip their favorite restaurants with the tools and resources to serve them accordingly, we are on the right track,” Valerie said.

“I didn’t get to try the Easy Peasy Chicken Cheesy Pizza yet!” exclaimed one of the girls from the front row, as she raised her hand to catch the attention of the Sysco Houston chef who created the finalist recipe. A smile from his face, as he handed her the last plate, made it obvious that Sysco takes great pride in making a difference, one plate at a time.

Kids may be tough critics when it comes to food, but Sysco’s recipe submissions surely seemed to wow these picky eaters. With their growling stomachs subdued by the filling samples, the winners received an overwhelming round of applause.


Grand Prize Winner:
Sea Fingers
Submitted by: Pat Benzin at Sysco Eastern Maryland

Second Place Winner:
Apple Slap Jacks with Fruit Leather
Submitted by: Richard Boone at Sysco Hampton Roads

Third Place Winner:
Clown Around Pizza
Submitted by: Callie Davis at Sysco North Texas