Taste of the Cowboys Culinary Challenge

Four student teams from around the Dallas region gathered at the Fuel Up Training Table at The Star in Frisco for the Taste of the Cowboys Challenge. As the official nutrition partner of the Dallas Cowboys, we teamed up with the Dallas Cowboys and Legends Hospitality to host an epic Iron Chef-style culinary challenge to support the North Texas Food Bank.

Student chefs represented culinary programs from Allen High School, The Colony High School, Dallas Skyline High School and Richardson High School. Each school competed to earn grant dollars for their school by creating a unique appetizer, entrée and dessert featuring our favorite ingredient, dairy!

During the one-hour competition students had to develop, prepare and serve a three-course meal featuring items that are usually found in food banks and kitchens of their food insecure clients. Each team was paired with an extraordinary Legends chef coach who acted as a lifeline while the teams crafted their meals. The teams and coaches ensured the meals represented all Five Food Groups from MyPlate, including dairy, fruit, grains, protein and vegetables. Chef teams earned bonus points by making sure the secret ingredient, dairy, was featured in all the dishes.

“We wanted to challenge the students with a twist on an ordinary culinary competition by incorporating items normally donated to the food bank,” said Jennie McDowell, director of business development for Dairy MAX. “Adding in dairy as a secret ingredient required students to think on their feet on how to add items like shelf stable milk or canned milk to their creations.”

After an hour of intense cooking, the students’ meals were judged by chef Orazio La Manna, regional executive chef of Legends Hospitality, Joe Looney, Dallas Cowboys offensive lineman, Tonda Spencer, owner of Spencer Dairy, and Kandace Ladis, Caliber Collision’s vice president of marketing. A crowd of spectators gathered around the judge panel’s podium to hear their praise and comments. Several themes ran through the collection of tastes, including Spanish-influenced dishes peppered with chili and cumin, fresh homemade pasta, seasoned rice tossed with delicate vegetables and perfectly poached eggs.

Dallas Skyline created the winning menu featuring:


Creamy mushroom toast with poached duck egg


Hand-rolled pasta with cheese mounted marinara sauce and pan-fried chicken breast


Crepe with berry medley and whipped cream, drizzled with raw honey

While there was only one winning team no student went home empty-handed. Each student chef received a personalized chef coat, and each school went home with grant dollars to support their culinary programs.

Want to learn more?

Check out what the Dallas Cowboys had to say about the Taste of the Cowboys Challenge!

Learn more about what we do as the official nutrition partner of the Dallas Cowboys.

By Essence Riley

Essence joined the Dairy MAX team in 2016 and loves working to grow our relationship with the Dallas Cowboys as their Official Nutrition Partner. She previously worked at Discover Card and has also served as an account executive at Schafer Condon Carter in Chicago. When she's not working, Essence loves to spend time with her family and cheer on the Dallas Cowboys. Learn more about Essence

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