Chef Demo: Food, Culture and Mental Health

Creating Impact through a Chef Demo

Chef Demo: Chicken Tinga

Charlotte, NC teacher (and Pilot Light Food Education Fellow) Ashley Sandoval hosted a magical event for her 9th grade Holistic Fitness students by using Pilot Light’s framework to create a food-based lesson. Her students are learning about food cultures that reflect their own identities and making connections with chefs who are representative of those cultures. To create this lesson, Ashley collaborated with Chef Damian Sandoval of Xiao Bao Biscuit.




Building Cultural Knowledge through Chicken Tinga

Damian discussed his journey from Chicago to Charlotte and led a cooking demonstration centered around Chicken Tinga, a Mexican dish that he grew up making and eating with his family. Chicken Tinga is shredded chicken stewed with onion, tomato, and chilies en adobo. It is often served in a taco, with rice or beans, or even on chips. Students enjoyed the opportunity to build on their knowledge of Mexico’s rich and diverse food history by tasting Chef Damian’s Chicken Tinga.  



FES 5: Food Impacts Health

Pilot Light lessons are grounded in our seven Food Education Standards. This one centered on Food Education Standard (FES) 5: Food impacts health. Mental health is an important piece of Ashley’s Holistic Fitness class and Chef Damian discussed the effect food has on his own mental health and mood. 

Ashley’s students loved this experience. By using food to teach, Ashley created a space for meaningful conversations about both culture and mental health. At Pilot Light, we are thrilled to see all the creative ways that teachers use food to make an impact in everyday learning.


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