Dozens of high school and middle school students from around the region competed in the 4th annual Jr. Iron Chef competition at SUNY Cobleskill on Saturday, April 1, cooking up healthy dishes to be considered for their own school cafeterias.
The competition featured 14 teams in the high school division and 14 teams in the middle school division representing Chenango, Delaware, Otsego, Schoharie, Montgomery, Fulton, Oneida, and Herkimer counties.
“The food was amazing, it really was,” said Joanne Cloughly, Professor and Chair of Agriculture and Food Management at SUNY Cobleskill. “It was a super high-energy day from beginning to end.”
The students were required to develop healthy, vegetarian recipes with at least two ingredients from Central New York and two USDA/Commodity foods that are available to schools through the National School Lunch Program. The recipes will be shared with school districts throughout the region with the hopes they’ll be incorporated into school meal plans.
Each team was paired with a SUNY Cobleskill Culinary Arts student who acted as a mentor during the competition.
“It gave the kids that were here competing a chance to see what we we’re all about and it gave our students a leadership lesson on how to mentor young students,” Cloughly said. “So I think it was a great experience all around.”
Dishes were judged by a panel of food service industry experts from around the region. Students were required to give an oral presentation about their recipes, which they did with relish. “Some did dances, some sang songs,” Cloughly said. “They were great.”
In the high school competition, the Roscoe Central School Sizzling Chefs (pictured in the header image) took first place with their Cultural Curry on Flatbread dish. Each member of the winning team gets a $500 scholarship to SUNY Cobleskill.
The middle school winning team was Waterville Farm to School from Waterville Central School District with Nested Quiche.
The competition was sponsored by SUNY Cobleskill, the Bassett Research Institute’s 5-2-1-0 Initiative, and the Rural Health Education Network of Schoharie, Otsego, and Montgomery Counties. It aims to teach valuable cooking skills and healthy eating habits, while involving students in the creation of healthier menus in their own schools.