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February 2024
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SFE Collaborates with Chef Sasha Raj to Develop New Mac & “Cheese” Recipe for Students
By Mayra Vasquez - Friday May 13, 2022
Southwest Foodservice Excellence (SFE), an Arizona based food service provider that specializes in K-12 nutrition, has collaborated with Chef Sasha Raj, to develop a new lunch recipe that embraces fresh from scratch ingredients and is inclusive of dietary alternatives for students. Raj’s recipe is a healthy, plant-based twist on the classic macaroni and cheese dish.

“I was drawn to work with SFE on this initiative because people often have the impression that students only want pizza or chicken nuggets for lunch when in reality, children want delicious meals that meet the expectations of their complex palate,” said Chef Sasha Raj. “I applaud the work SFE is doing to start uplifting conversations around the quality of food in our schools and empowering families to make educated decisions about their food and learn what is going in their bodies.”

Raj’s vegan mac and cheese recipe is inspired by her popular, beloved “mac and trees” recipe from her former 24 Carrots juice bar and restaurant. The “cheese” is made from a puree featuring butternut squash, potatoes, carrots, onions, cashews, and an assortment of flavorful spices. As the owner and executive chef of 24 Carrots, Raj would take comfort meals and transform them to be entirely plant-based. 24 Carrots became a community staple and highly applauded for delicious, compassionate meals by locals and food critics.

“Vegan sounds scary until you realize that french fries and ketchup are also vegan,” said Raj. “Mac and cheese is a comfort dish. This recipe is a great way to incorporate fresh, nutrient rich vegetables into a meal they already love and introduce students to the importance of food education.”

Raj’s collaboration with SFE is part of the company’s commitment to research and development of unique, fresh-from-scratch recipes for students across the country.

“We’re developing recipes in the kitchen that students’ tastebuds will love but also nourish the health of their mind and body so they can succeed in the classrooms,” said Chef Monty Staggs, CEO of SFE. “SFE is excited to join the local talent that cultivate Arizona’s exciting culinary world and provide better food and education for our students.”

SFE serves classic student favorites like pizza but also incorporates signature chef inspired meals that cater to the location’s diverse cuisine and diets such as Navajo tacos and halal. SFE is currently working with multiple celebrity chefs to develop and research new potential menu items for the next school year.