Sheriff Dart Hosts First Garden Chef Challenge

Sep 14, 2023Press Release


COOK COUNTY, IL – Showcasing the versatility of the produce grown on its urban farm, the Cook County Sheriff’s Office hosted a cooking challenge where two local chefs each created a dish using the urban farm’s fresh vegetables and herbs in a timed competition.

During Wednesday’s competition, Chef Sean Myers, owner of Blaxican Chicago Catering, and Chef Adriano Bruzzone, of Recipe for Change used the farm’s late summer produce as well as a handful of provided ingredients to make their entrees. Adding to the challenge, the chefs had one hour to make it and cooked it outdoors on the farm located at the Cook County Jail.

“We know how great this produce is and what’s a better way to show that to the culinary community than to have them literally cook with it,” Sheriff Dart said. “The Urban Farm program provides valuable skills to participants and for them to watch what they have grown being prepared in real time is priceless. We are grateful for our two chefs who took part in today’s event and look forward to next year’s competition.”

Dan Rosenthal, president of Sopraffina Restaurants,  Dr. Jane Gubser, Executive Director of the Cook County Department of Corrections, and Dr. Keyuana Muhammad, Assistant Executive Director of Programs at the Cook County Department of Corrections served as judges.

The Sheriff’s Urban Farm program teaches individuals in custody how to grow, care for, and sell produce and flowers as well as learn the benefits of gardening. All produce is grown from seed in the farm’s greenhouse and is pesticide free. The produce is sold at local farmers markets and to Chicago area restaurants, including Sopraffina.

“Our collaboration with Sheriff Dart is the perfect example of the public and private sectors working together to create a win-win for everyone,” Rosenthal said. “We are thrilled to continue to show support for the Sheriff’s Urban Farm program.”

The judges scored the dishes based on taste, creativity, and presentation. While both dishes were praised by the judges, in the end, there could only be one winner.

Chef Myers won with his entree, a take on a ratatouille, in which he layered cooked eggplant, zucchini and other vegetables and then topped if off with pickled onions.

“Seeing the program and knowing that I have had family members in the exact same situation, I  wanted to give back,” Myers said about participating in Wednesday’s event. “I enjoyed being here, and I had a really good time.”

Chef Myers grew up on Chicago’s South Side and discovered his love for cooking when he was 12. He has worked at several Chicago restaurants including Charlie Trotter’s, Boka, and GT Prime.

Chef Bruzzone grew up working in his family’s restaurant. He oversees the Recipe of Change program at the Cook County Jail, where individuals in custody learn the value of good nutrition, healthy food, and cooking skills. The program includes culinary instruction, sanitation instruction, and ServSafe certification.

Restaurants interested in purchasing produce from the Sheriff’s Urban Farm may contact the program at