Young Chefs Compete for Junior Iron Chef Title at SUNY Cobleskill

MyHealthy Decisions

April 29, 2016

More than 50 budding chefs from around the region showed off their culinary skills, as well as improved their school cafeteria menus, in a Jr. Iron Chef competition sponsored by the Bassett Research Institute in Cooperstown and SUNY Cobleskill on Saturday, April 16.

The competition challenged teams of area middle and high school students to prepare dishes from original recipes using both locally-sourced and commodity ingredients as they raced against the clock. They had 90 minutes to prepare their Jr Iron Chef 2016.jpgdishes without any hands-on help from adults. They were expected to develop recipes that could be prepared for about two dollars in a busy school cafeteria.

SUNY Cobleskill President Marion Terenzio was on the panel of food and nutrition experts that judged the competition. “This event is a fabulous way to help young people understand the importance of knowing where their food comes from,” said Terenzio, “and they learn how to prepare it in a way that not only fuels their bodies but tastes good. By working hand-in-hand with our culinary arts students, they are also introduced to a career possibility they may never have otherwise considered.”

Pictured on the right is the gold medal team in the high school competition, “Savor 2016” from Otsego Northern Catskill BOCES. Their winning recipe was for spinach and black bean enchiladas. The silver medal went to the “Sizzling Chefs” from Roscoe Central School for their “warm –n– chili Halloween treat,” and the bronze medal went home with “Team Cuisine” from Delaware-Chenango-Madison-Otsego BOCES, which prepared a broccoli mac –n– cheese dish. SUNY Cobleskill donated $500 dollar scholarship to the winning team and $250 scholarships to the silver and bronze medal teams.

SUNY Cobleskill has already committed to hosting the competition again next year and donated a $500 culinary school scholarship to the winning team, and $250 scholarships to the second and third place teams.

Professor JoAnne Cloughly, chair of Agriculture and Food Management, noted, “This was a perfect way to have aspiring young chefs work in true commercial kitchens along with our Culinary Arts students. We see this as the beginning of a wonderful partnership, and a great way to showcase healthy eating and creative cooking.”

Two dozen teams of middle- and high-school students from Delaware, Fulton, Herkimer, Montgomery, Oneida, Otsego, Schoharie, and Sullivan counties competed in the competition guided by SUNY Cobleskill culinary students as well as their own faculty advisors. They were required to develop healthy, vegetarian recipes using at least two ingredients from Central New York—from apples and kale to cheese, honey, and eggs—and two USDA/Commodity foods that were made available to schools through the National School Lunch Program.

Jr. Iron Chef is part of the Bassett Research Institute 5-2-1-0 Initiative, which aims to improve the health of children in Central New York, and the Rural Health Education Network of Schoharie, Otsego and Montgomery counties.

“The competition provides a fun and challenging forum for students to have a voice in what food they are served in their school and provides them with valuable culinary skills and education that can impact their health for life,” said 5-2-1-0 Project Coordinator Christine Burrington.

After the competition, the recipes are shared with school districts throughout the region with the hopes they’ll be incorporated into school meal plans.

The dishes were judged on taste, presentation, creativity, use of local and commodity ingredients, food-service friendliness, and ease of preparation. In addition to Dr. Terenzio, the panel of judges included the Fabulous Beekman Boys, Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell; Kurt Pelton, author of “What’s for Dinner: Delectable Meals”; and Tim and Tracy Purcell of Grapevine Farms in Schoharie County.

The gold medal in the high school competition went to “Savor 20-16” from Otsego Northern Catskill BOCES. Their winning recipe was for spinach and black bean enchiladas. The silver medal went to the “Sizzling Chefs” from Roscoe Central School for their “warm –n– chili Halloween treat,” and the bronze medal went home with “Team Cuisine” from Delaware-Chenango-Madison-Otsego BOCES, which prepared a broccoli mac –n– cheese dish.

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