Little chefs make award-winning snacks
Twenty-two little chefs donned their very own custom-sized chef coat and hat and served samples of original recipes with the hopes that theirs would be the tastiest of all.
Mukilteo School District’s Nutrition Services Department held its fourth annual Future Chef Competition on April 27 at Mariner High School, where third, fourth and fifth graders competed for the title of top chef.
Only students with the most health-conscious, kid-friendly, fun and creative recipes for after-school snacks received one of the five judges’ awards and the grand prize – a mountain bike.
“With this kids’ cooking competition, the goal is to bring more awareness to nutrition education in the elementary schools,” said Chris Lutgen, director of child nutrition for the district. “The kids start getting interested in food and their bodies, and being in the kitchen and having fun.”
The overall winner, with the Judges Choice award, was Serene Lake fifth grader Jassmyn Lopez for her “Greek Pizza” recipe.
“It was really surprising,” Jassmyn said of winning. “I thought there was no way I was going to win Judges Choice.”
Other 2012 top chefs are as follows:
Andrea Rose, third grader at Odyssey Elementary, won the Health Conscious award for her “Banana Ice Cream” recipe.
Victoria Chavez-Gomez, a third grader at Fairmount Elementary, won the Simple, Kid Friendly Preparation award for her “Yah-Yah Raspberry Carrot Cheerio Muffins” recipe.
Louis Dabir, third grader at Discovery Elementary, won the Fun Kids Foods award for his “Peanut Butter Honeybees” recipe.
Hercis Hernandez, a fourth grader at Picnic Point Elementary, won the Best Table Decoration award. His recipe was “Tiritas of Fish and Shrimp.”
“I’m glad I’m not one of the judges, because it’s very tough, very hard to decide,” Lutgen said.
Jassmyn’s mom taught her how to make a Greek pizza when she was 9 years old. For the contest, she made the recipe her own.
“I had sun dried tomatoes on it, and I added slightly more feta cheese because I like how it gave it a little more of a stronger flavor,” she said.
A committee made up of Nutrition Services staff chose the top 22 recipes – two from each of the district’s 11 elementary schools – from hundreds of entries.
“A lot of them take what people maybe think is an unhealthy snack, and they turn it into something healthy and fun,” Lutgen said. “They’re very creative.”
With the help of a mentor, the little chefs made about 100 samples of their after school snacks to share with the community – and the judges – before the awards ceremony at Mariner.
Jassmyn and her mentor made 16 pizzas and cut them up into samples. Nutrition Services provided all of the ingredients and tools.
“It was really fun,” she said. “There was actually a lot of math involved, too, because I had to triple the recipe.”
The judges were Marci Larsen, superintendent of the Mukilteo School District; Judy Schwab, president of the Mukilteo School Board; Annie Johnson, executive director of Elementary Education; and Becky Pechman, chef at the Sno-Isle Tech Skills Center.
The four judges intermixed with all the students, teachers, staff, parents, brothers and sisters who came to the competition to taste samples, so the contestants didn’t know who they were.
Jassymn said she received a lot of compliments for her Greek pizza, and that a lot of tasters came back for seconds or thirds.
“They were surprised at how good it tastes,” she said. “It doesn’t look that good when you just look at it sometimes, but when you eat it, it tastes really good. They said it was really, really good.”
The grand prize winners also received a fitted helmet from Snohomish County Fire District 1.
All contestants also received a medal and certificate of participation. Their recipes were published in the 2012 Future Chefs recipe book.
The Nutrition Services Department and Sodexo School Services sponsored the contest, which together promote healthy eating and staying active. Learn about their School Stars program at www.liftoffsplayground.com.
By Jassmyn Lopez
5th grader at Serene Lake Elementary
Judges Choice winner
24 slices sundried tomatoes in olive oil
3 artichoke hearts in water
8 kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
½ cup feta cheese
4 oz. cream cheese
1 ¼ cup mozzarella cheese, grated
4 pita bread
Microwave the feta and cream cheese for 20-30 seconds. Blend cream cheese and feta in a food processor until smooth. Spread two tablespoons of the feta and cream cheese mixture on each pita bread. Cover with ¼ cup mozzarella cheese on each pita. Slice the kalamata olives and put two olives on each pita bread. Drain the artichokes, then chop up and put the artichoke pieces on each pita. Dry off any extra oil from the tomatoes, if needed. Put six slices of tomatoes on each pita. Top all pitas with mozzarella. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes. Makes four pizzas. Slice, serve and enjoy.