7th annual Young Chefs Competition

7th annual Young Chefs Competition
Posted on 03/24/2015

7th Annual Young Chefs Competition

Just before spring break, on Tuesday, March 4, 2015, a group of fourth-and fifth-grade students convened at University High School for the seventh annual Young Chefs Culinary Competition, sponsored by Sodexo Child Nutrition Services.  The 42 elementary students who entered the competition were from nine different schools, representing six school districts from across Central Texas.  

With all of the makings of an iron chef cooking competition – a guest chef, a theme, a time clock, ingredients, television interviews, judging, tasters and lots of pressure - the Young Chefs culinary competition is a friendly rivalry that offers students a fun way to learn about the culinary arts while developing healthy eating habits.

The competition actually began earlier in the spring, when students were invited to submit recipes for the competition, and ultimately, four students from each school were chosen as finalists.  To qualify, the students had to submit kid-friendly, healthy, nutritional afterschool snacks.

Young Chefs

On the day of the competition, the students met in the University High School cafeteria for a short safety meeting and cooking demonstration led by guest Chef Henry Tapia from Huntsville ISD.  The students then worked with kitchen managers and high school students in the A.J. Moore Culinary Arts Academy at University High School to prepare their recipes.  

The students were required to decorate tables and display 100 samples of their food for judging.  Judges representing each school district decided on the winners.  The students were encouraged to talk about their healthy snacks and explain how they developed their ideas. There was an open tasting for the public, followed by an awards ceremony in the school’s performing arts center with prizes for the winners in nine different categories. 

According to Cliff Reece, Waco ISD’s Director of Child Nutrition Services, the purpose of the event is to help young children become involved in making healthy nutritional choices at an early age.  

“When children prepare their own snacks and meals, they are more likely to make healthy choices.  Also, cooking is a great family activity that allows children to utilize their math and science skills in an enjoyable way,” Reece explained.

Every student who participated received a chef hat, apron, shirt and a gift bag.  Although there were only nine grand prizes awarded, each and every student left with a lot more confidence in the kitchen and nutritional knowledge to last a lifetime.  And although the kitchen got extremely hot, no one had to leave!

Overall Winners

The winners of the 2015 Young Chefs Culinary Competition, held on March 4, 2015 at University High School: 

1. Most Health-conscious Snack:  
Savannah Brown, China Spring ISD
“Apple Pie in a Glass”

2. Most Kid-friendly Preparation: 
Marissa Zechmann, Lorena ISD
“Berry Good Bowl”

3. Most Fun Kid Snack: 
Summer Chapman, Connally ISD
“Waffle with a Face”

4. Judge's Choice: 
LaFair Taylor, Cresview Elementary/Waco ISD
“Cookie Pudding”

5. Best Table Presentation:  
Samantha Thamert, Lake Air Montessori/Waco ISD
“Strawberry Yogurt”

6. Chef's Choice: 
Antanija Hannah, Crestview Elementary/Waco ISD
“Fruit Muffin”

7. Best Fusion Recipe:
Addi Wolff, Gatesville ISD
“Choco-Carrott Peanut Butter Dip”

8. Best Food Plating Presentation:  
Kyla Leal, Robinson ISD
“Avocado Cilantro Wrap”
9. Rising Star Award:  
Grady Wilson, Mountainview Elementary/Waco ISD
“Perfect Pizza Pocket”

Corporate Sponsors

The 2015 Young Chefs Culinary Competition event would not be possible without the support of corporate sponsors: 

Labatt Food Service
Hubert Food Service and Equipment
Chef Works
Fresh Point
Key Impact
Newton Brokerage


Special thanks to the following individuals who served as judges for the 2015 Young Chefs Culinary Competition:

• Ethan Hutchins, KWTX-TV Channel 10
• Mike Beheler, The Egg and I
• Cecelia Boswell, Retired Waco ISD Administrator
• Jane Bounds, Pack of Hope
• Travis Cheatham, Mission Waco
• Joel Talley, HOT Biscuit
• Allen Collins, Sodexo District Manager
• Heather Branch, Waco ISO Coordinator of Health Svs
• Dr. Bonny Cain, Superintendent of Waco ISO
• Darrell Frazier, Business Manager, Gatesville ISD 
• Dr. Joe Kucera, Assistant Superintendent, China Spring ISD
• Brenda Poteet, Business Manager, China Spring ISD
• Marty Miller, Fresh Point Produce
• Joe Stuever, Fresh Point Produce 
• Chef Ron Smith, Fresh Point Produce