Pilot Light began in 2010 when four Chicago chefs, Jason Hammel, Paul Kahan, Matthias Merges, and Justin Large, wanted to give back to their Chicago community by teaching students about food. They wanted students to learn about where food comes from, how it grows, and how their choices affect their bodies and the environment.


Inspired by Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move, Chefs Move to Schools” campaign…

Inspired by Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move, Chefs Move to Schools” campaign, the chefs worked with Chicago Public School leaders and partnered with Disney II Magnet School to develop Pilot Light, a new approach where students learn about making healthy choices within their regular classroom lessons.

The Pilot Light program was refined and incubated at Disney II Magnet School, where our team identified best practices in Chicago Public Schools, experimented with lesson development, honed our programming based on data collected, and stretched the boundaries of what students do in the classroom. Our current program helps our teachers meet academic and nutrition requirements while creating an exciting and meaningful learning experience around food for their students.


See How Pilot Light Makes a Difference


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Follow Us