Chef Wood Porter joins students and families at Chalmers Elementary for a virtual, educational cooking demo!

As an organization founded by chefs, it’s always been at the heart of what we do to provide opportunities for local chefs to partner with teachers to share their love and knowledge of food with students. This past year during the pandemic, we continued to connect chefs with teachers so that they could lead cooking demonstrations and experiences in a virtual format, which had the added benefit of engaging entire families!

Most recently, our teacher Fellow Tamara Leachman, who teaches at Chalmers Elementary in Chicago, partnered with local chef, Wood Porter, to provide a cooking demonstration for families. Together, they made Sweet Chili Shrimp Tacos with Jalapeño Mango Coleslaw. Along the way, students also learned about health by identifying the different food groups in their tacos. They also learned math through discussions on the different forms of measurement, fractions, and scaling in the recipe. Chef demonstrations have the added benefit of inspiring future career paths: students learned about Chef Wood’s journey to being a chef from studying telecommunications to restaurants in NYC to culinary school to now being a private chef!

This year, we were also thrilled to partner with talented Chefs Jonathan Zaragoza from Birria Zaragoza, James Martin from Bocadillo Market, Lisa Thompson from Blue Sky Bakery, Michael George and Nate Kuester into Pilot Light classrooms this year. As we finalize plans for 2021-22, we look forward to partnering again with these chefs and others to create inspiring and impactful food education experiences for students. 

Recipe: Chef Wood Porter’s Sweet Chili Shrimp Tacos with Jalapeño Mango Coleslaw


Sweet Chili Shrimp

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil, or more, as needed
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce
  • Kosher salt, granulated garlic and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined(21-25 count)
  • 12 6-inch corn tortillas
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Jalapeno Coleslaw: (Could sub pre packaged Cole Slaw Mix)

  • 1/2 small Head Napa Cabbage – thinly sliced (about 8 ounces)*
  • 1/2 Head Purple Cabbage – thinly sliced (about 8 ounces)*
  • 1 small Red Onion – thinly sliced, rinsed in cold water, and drained well
  • 2 small Carrots – peeled and shredded
  • 2 Jalapenos – seeded and minced
  • 1 Bunch Cilantro – roughly chopped 
  • 1 Firm Mango – Peeled and roughly chopped 
  • 1/2 Cup Mayonnaise or more to taste*
  • 2 TBS Spicy Brown Mustard
  • 1 TBS Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 4 tsp Granulated White Sugar or Honey
  • 1/4 tsp Cumin
  • 1/4 tsp of granulated garlic powder 
  • 1/8 tsp EACH: Cayenne & Black Pepper
  • Juice of 1 Lime


  • 2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons Frank’s Hot Sauce


  • Jalapeno Coleslaw: Combine Mango, Cabbage, Carrots, Jalapeno, Red and Cilantro in a mixing bowl.
  • In a separate, small mixing bowl combine remaining (dressing) ingredients. Whisk well to combine.
  • Pour 1/4 cup of the Dressing over Cabbage mixture. Toss to combine. Add more dressing until desired level of creaminess is achieved. OPTIONAL, but recommended:  Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour to allow flavors to incorporate.
  • To make the sauce, whisk together sweet chili sauce, honey and Hot Sauce in a small bowl; set aside.
  • Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.
  • In a large bowl combine cornstarch, hot sauce sauce; season with salt and pepper, garlic powder to taste, coat shrimp.
  • Working in batches, add shrimp to the skillet and cook until evenly golden and crispy, about 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.
  • Serve immediately with warmed tortillas and slaw at bottom, drizzled with sweet chili sauce and garnished with cilantro, if desired.


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