Restaurant chef brings cajun cuisine to school lunch

Chefs Move to Schools partnership brings new flavors to students.

Feb. 14—Chef Charles Gilliam, owner of  Okra’s Louisiana Bistro in old town Manassas, thought developing a menu for school students would be a piece of cake. But things were a little harder than he expected.

“They have a tight budget they have to work with, and unfortunately they have really, really tight restrictions for what they’re able to do to put together the food for the kids,” Gilliam said.

But Gilliam hasn’t given up. He’s been working with the school system since last year as part of First lady Michelle Obama’s “Chefs Move to Schools” program, which is run through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to help chefs partner with schools to create healthy meals. On Friday, Gilliam introduced the first menu item of red beans and rice, maquechoux and corn bread to the students at Metz Middle School, with much success.