Health Check Kids: Future Chefs Challenge
Dozens of elementary school students take part in the Future Chefs Challenge in Rhode Island.
In Woonsocket, the top 11 competed this past weekend.
This healthy cooking challenge is a Sodexo Food Services competition that involves 1300 school districts in 30 states that have contracts with Sodexo Food Services.
"I'm making pastalon wontons," said Leylani Sanchez, a fifth-grade student from Bernon Heights in Woonsocket.
"A healthy Asian taco,” said Kail Bernier, a third grader at the school.
This is the eighth year for this national healthy cooking contest. The theme this year: Asian Fusion.
"In the past, they've had to do a healthy salad or a healthy sandwich,” said Ellen Shalvey, general manager of Sodexo in the Woonsocket school district. “Asian Fusion! Just explaining to the children what that concept meant was challenging but we got some great recipes."
Many of the third through fifth-grade students coming up with their own twist on Asian fusion.
"Asian-Swedish spaghetti,” is what Marcus Jansen, a fourth grader at Harris Elementary School said he was making.
Some of the recipes passed down in the family, like this Asian chicken salad prepared by Alizaha Parra, a third-grade student at Citizens elementary.
"I got it from my grandpa because he used to always make this,” she said.
"They get points awarded for some of their more healthful choices in the recipes, be it whole grains or fruits and vegetables,” said Shalvey.
In all, these youngsters get 90 minutes to cook, assemble and plate their dishes.
"We have them all working with an adult and the adult is the mentor,” said Shalvey. “The child's in charge, but we also want to make sure they're learning about food safety."
"What I tell them: If you're baking, it's chemistry but when you're cooking, it's creativity."
In the end, the recipes were judged on creativity, taste, presentation and its healthy aspects.
The top three winners include the following:
3rd place: Alizaha Parra for her Chinese chicken salad
2nd place: Lucas Webb for his Asian salmon stir-fry
1st place: Reagan Dorian for her chicken ginger stir-fry.
Five other Rhode Island school districts took part. The top winners at each, compete regionally, and then nationally!