America Cooks With Chefs Reveals Six Contestants In Nationwide Healthy Cooking Competition

New sponsors Mayo Clinic, Barilla, and production partner Ora.TV join the America Cooks with Chefs movement along with the Clinton Foundation, the James Beard Foundation, and Palisades Media Ventures and sponsors Deloitte and Weight Watchers

Oct 27, 2014, 13:03 ET from America Cooks with Chefs

WASHINGTON, Oct. 27, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- America Cooks with Chefs, a nationwide health and wellness movement, revealed the identities of the six contestants who will be paired with James Beard Award–winning chefs to participate in a challenge to create the ultimate delicious and healthy dish.

The six contestants will attend Kitchen Camps, where the chefs will teach them how to "make under" their favorite high-calorie dish and turn it into a nutritious, easy-to-prepare meal. The contestants will put their new culinary skills to the test when they compete in a Live Cooking Challenge at the Clinton Health Matters Initiative Conference in January 2015.

The initiative is an effort between Palisades Media Ventures, the Clinton Foundation, the James Beard Foundation, and Good Housekeeping and is sponsored by Deloitte, Weight Watchers, Barilla, and Mayo Clinic.

Viewers across the country will be able to follow contestants' progress through the America Cooks with Chefs original video series produced by Ora.TV. The seven-episode series will run from December through February on Ora.TV. "America Cooks with Chefs is an innovative digital series and a great cause," said Ora.TV CEO John Housman. "We are excited to partner with the Clinton Foundation, the James Beard Foundation, and of course Palisades Media, to both produce the episodes and to be the digital home of the series on Ora.TV."

The six contestants will be paired with top American chefs:

  • Maria Hines - Co-Owner/Head Chef, Tilth, Golden Beetle & Agrodolce
  • Jimmy Schmidt - Executive Chef, Morgan's in the desert at La Quinta Resort
  • Mary Sue Milliken - Co-Chef/Owner, Border Grill Restaurants & Truck
  • Naomi Pomeroy – Owner/Chef, Beast
  • Tony Mantuano - Chef/Partner, Spiaggia and Bar Toma
  • Michelle Bernstein - Co-Owner/Head Chef, Michy's and Crumb on Parchment

Contestants & James Beard Award–Winning Chef Mentors:
Jonathan Saturay (New York, NY) works for the Pure Food Kids Foundation and teaches children about the importance of making healthy food choices. He will be paired with chef Maria Hines (Seattle, WA).

Vanita Lark Williams (Los Angeles, CA) is interested in learning how to make her popular Caribbean and Southern dishes more nutritious. She will be paired with chef Mary Sue Milliken (Los Angeles, CA).

Kathy Partak (Auburn, California) has had six knee surgeries, making exercise difficult.  Healthy eating is a top priority for her and her active-duty military husband and son, who is a budding chef himself. She will be paired with chef Naomi Pomeroy (Portland, Oregon).

Jordan Kennedy (Alexandria, VA) is preparing for her wedding and hopes to build the next chapter of her life on a foundation of sustainable healthy cooking and eating practices. She will be paired with chef Jimmy Schmidt (La Quinta, CA).

Victoria Phillips (Lake Forest, IL) and her husband enjoy trying new foods, but their children are picky eaters. She would like to learn healthy recipes that appeal to the whole family. She will be paired with chef Tony Mantuano (Chicago, IL).

Michel Angelo Gonzales (Miami, FL) loves the Latin cuisine of his culture, but heart disease and high blood pressure run in his family, making nutrition especially important to him. He will be paired with chef Michelle Bernstein (Miami, FL).

Each contestant will also be paired with a Weight Watchers Leader who will support them one-on-one to assess their current lifestyle, then identify and incorporate behavior changes to help them develop healthier habits.

Presenting sponsor Deloitte will host an America Cooks with Chefs event series as part of the organization's commitment to provide its professionals with a healthy work-life fit. The event series will take place at Deloitte University in Westlake, TX, during Well-Being Week and will include celebrity chef competitions. Christie Smith, managing principal of the Deloitte University Leadership Center for Inclusion, Deloitte LLP, said, "Deloitte's sponsorship of America Cooks With Chefs will bring innovative and educational programming to our professionals to further support their well-being and empower them to own their health." The participating chefs will include Jimmy Schmidt, Tory Miller, Mary Sue Milliken, and Paul Qui.

Italian food company Barilla has joined America Cooks with Chefs as a presenting sponsor. Together, they will showcase the healthy food choices that make up the Mediterranean lifestyle, including pasta as a vehicle for healthy ingredients like vegetables and lean protein. "Barilla is committed to helping people live better by bringing well-being and the joy of eating into their everyday lives," said Prita Wadhwani, Barilla Marketing Manager. "We are excited to work with the contestants and chefs to share how pasta can be a part of a healthy lifestyle through wholesome and delicious pasta dishes that anyone can prepare."

America Cooks with Chefs also announced a new sponsorship by Mayo Clinic, a worldwide leader in medical practice, research and education. Mayo Clinic offers a number of healthy living offerings to consumers and patients, including the comprehensive Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program, with goals closely tied to those of the initiative. "The America Cooks with Chefs initiative complements our commitment to preventive care and living a healthy lifestyle. We look forward to working together to help Americans find solutions to achieve a healthier life," said Paul Limburg, M.D., Medical Director, Mayo Clinic Global Business Solutions.

About America Cooks with Chefs
America Cooks with Chefs is nationwide health and wellness movement that connects Americans with celebrity chefs to translate food into healthy, tasty and practical dishes. Through an educational and entertaining cooking competition, the initiative provides videos and resources to inspire people to make healthier choices in their daily lives. The initiative is an effort between Palisades Media Ventures, the Clinton Foundation, the James Beard Foundation and Good Housekeeping and is sponsored by Deloitte, Weight Watchers, Barilla, Mayo Clinic and Aetna. For more information visit

About Palisades Media Ventures
Palisades Media Ventures (PMV) is a media development company with a single purpose: to create innovative public affairs projects for the digital age. Our projects include town halls, video series and documentaries and our partners include leaders from media and public service. We are committed to shining a light on matters of public importance and bringing them to the public in new and engaging ways.

About The Clinton Health Matters Initiative
The Clinton Health Matters Initiative (CHMI) works to improve the health and wellbeing of all people by activating individuals, communities, and organizations to make meaningful contributions to the health of others. The goals of CHMI are to reduce the prevalence of preventable health outcomes, close health inequity and disparity gaps, and reduce health care costs by improving access to key contributors to health for all people.

About the James Beard Foundation
Founded in 1986, the James Beard Foundation celebrates, nurtures, and honors America's diverse culinary heritage through programs that educate and inspire. A cookbook author and teacher with an encyclopedic knowledge about food, James Beard, who died in 1985, was a champion of American cuisine. He helped educate and mentor generations of professional chefs and food enthusiasts, instilling in them the value of wholesome, healthful and delicious food. Today the Beard Foundation continues in the same spirit by administering a number of diverse programs that include educational initiatives, food industry awards, scholarships for culinary students, publications, chef advocacy training, and thought-leader convening. For more information, please visit

About Deloitte
In the United States, Deloitte LLP and its subsidiaries have 57,000 professionals with a single focus: serving our clients and helping them solve their toughest problems. We work in four key business areas — audit, financial advisory, tax and consulting — but our real strength comes from combining the talents of those groups to address clients' needs. Fortune and BusinessWeek consistently rank our organization among the best places to work, which is good news for our talent and our clients alike.

About Weight Watchers International, Inc. 
Weight Watchers International, Inc. is the world's leading provider of weight management services, operating globally through a network of Company-owned and franchise operations. Weight Watchers holds more than 40,000 meetings each week where members receive group support and learn about healthy eating patterns, behavior modification and physical activity. Weight Watchers provides innovative, digital weight management products through its websites, mobile sites and apps. Weight Watchers is the leading provider of digital weight management products in the world. In addition, Weight Watchers offers a wide range of products, publications and programs for those interested in weight loss and weight control.

About the Barilla Group
Created in Parma in 1877 out of a shop that made bread and pasta, Barilla is today among the top Italian food groups, a world leader in the pasta and pasta sauce businesses in continental Europe, bakery products in Italy, and the crisp bread business in Scandinavia. Currently, the Barilla Group owns 30 production sites (14 in Italy and 16 abroad) and exports to more than 100 countries. Every year, its plants turn out around 1,700,000 tons of food products that are consumed on tables all over the world, under the following brand names: Barilla, Mulino Bianco, Voiello, Pavesi, Academia Barilla, Wasa, Harrys (Francia and Russia), Misko (Grecia), Filiz (Turchia), Yemina and Vesta (Messico). For more information, please visit: or

About Mayo Clinic
Recognizing 150 years of serving humanity in 2014, Mayo Clinic is a nonprofit worldwide leader in medical care, research and education for people from all walks of life. For more information, visit 150years.mayoclinic.org and

About Ora.TV
Ora.TV is a television production studio and on-demand digital network with its home at Ora (which means "now" in Italian) launched in July 2012 with "Larry King Now," available on Hulu and on, and is viewed millions of times per month online, and broadcast on TV around the world. Ora.TV's other programming includes Politicking with Larry King (globally distributed both digitally and on linear TV), NewsBreaker, NewsBreaker en Espanol, Daily ReHash, DweebCast, and the recently launched Off The Grid with Jesse Ventura. In April 2013, Ora.TV acquired Stick Figure Studios, an Emmy award-winning documentary and reality series production company based in New York. Stick Figure is the producer of Catching Hell, which premiered on The Weather Channel on June 1 and airs digitally on Ora.TV. Ora.TV is funded by America Movil, the leading Latin American wireless service provider, with a majority interest held by noted global business leader Carlos Slim Helu.

About Good Housekeeping
Since its inception over 128 years ago, Good Housekeeping has been the brand that women turn to for tested and trusted information. Powered by the Good Housekeeping Research Institute and the Good Housekeeping Seal and Green Good Housekeeping Seal, she can be confident that she will find quality and value for every aspect of her life. Content that delivers the "service of discovery" -- innovative features, tips, and tools designed to delight, surprise and enrich her everyday routine. Good Housekeeping's distinctive coverage of food, beauty, style, health and home is presented to the reader in a colorful and contemporary package. In a world inundated with misinformation, Good Housekeeping empowers our audience to be smart consumers and always in-the-know women.

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