Charlotte Businesses Team Up Today To Host Massive Bakeoff on National Banana Bread Day

Two local organizations committed to empowering Charlotte residents to cook, eat and live healthier are going bananas in honor of National Banana Bread Day on Feb. 23.
Dole Food Company, Inc., the global fresh fruit and vegetable provider with U.S. headquarters in Charlotte, and Community Culinary School of Charlotte (CCSC), a nonprofit committed to providing culinary industry workforce development training and job placement assistance to those facing employment barriers, will host a bake-off and free public taste test today (Feb. 23rd) to determine Charlotte’s best banana bread.
CCSC provides culinary training to those impacted by homelessness, poverty, abuse and other issues, and to veterans and others transitioning into civilian life, to encourage self-sufficiency through stable employment in food service. CSSC’s current class, it’s 73rd since its founding in 1997, numbers 23 students. Under the leadership of CCSC Executive Director Ron Ahlert, known to students as “Chef Ron,” CCSC counts 1,087 graduates.
According to bake-off rules announced today, local residents can sample competing banana bread recipes – one developed by banana-leader Dole and a second created by CCSC students – before casting their vote for their favorite at the CCSC Café. The winning recipe will be crowned “Charlotte’s Best Banana Bread” and distributed to media and other groups on Feb. 23’s National Banana Bread Day and made available for sale at the Café on the holiday and beyond.
This friendly competition is part of a larger collaboration between the two organizations to develop healthy, produce-forward, cooking and lifestyle habits and provide the training to allow more local residents to gain access to Charlotte’s growing culinary and food service sector.
“We’re delighted to celebrate National Banana Day with the world’s most famous banana provider,” said Anne Lambert, CCSC director of development. “Support from partners like Dole helps us grow CCSC’s workforce training program as a creative solution to the interwoven problems of unemployment, hunger and homelessness. Our ultimate goal is to provide the education, experience and other resources necessary to provide food service industry job security to Charlotteans facing employment barriers.”
“The participation by Dole and especially Melanie Marcus, MA, RD, Dole’s nutrition and health communications manager, ensures that our curriculum includes an essential nutrition, health and wellness component – and of course plenty of DOLE® Bananas and other fresh fruits and vegetables.”
Voters visiting the CCSC Café today will have the opportunity to blind taste and cast their ballot for their favorite—either Dole’s Loaded Banana Bread, made with DOLE Bananas, eggs, almond milk yogurt and crushed pecans; or the student-created CCSC Class #73 Banana Bread featuring DOLE Bananas, avocado oil, maple syrup and sweet potato, the official vegetable of the State of North Carolina. The Community Culinary School of Charlotte Café is located at 9315 Monroe Road, Unit D, in Charlotte, and open weekdays from 9am to 2pm for breakfast and lunch.
In addition to the winning banana bread, Café customers can order banana muffins with chocolate chips, coconut or pineapple, and a special banana bread savory sandwich for dine-in or takeout starting Feb. 23. The Cafe’s regular menu of coffee and bakery items, sandwiches, salads, soups and grab-and-go family meals will also be available.
“Dole is honored to help support the next generation of local bakers, cooks and chefs – and remind these future culinary stars that the best recipes can be delicious and healthy at the same time,” said Marcus. “The enthusiasm, creativity and passion displayed by these students makes all of us at Dole very excited about the future of Charlotte’s restaurant and food service scene. Chef Ron and his team at CCSC are a great asset to the community.”