“Future Chefs” accept healthy challenge

Future Chefs from Avalon Elementary, from left: Emily Heller, Corrine Pasko, Mason Edmunds, Emma DeSimone, Paige Butler. Photo by Tom Steiner for The Citizen

Avalon Elementary students learned about the importance of healthy eating while also developing their culinary skills, thanks to education partner Sodexo -- the school district's cafeteria food provider --and its "Future Chefs: Health Salad Challenge."

The national program, now in its third year, was created to get students thinking about making healthy food choices while also encouraging them to get active and creative in the kitchen.

The competition started in January when 12 students filled out recipe cards that described culinary creations such as Emily Heller's sweet potato chicken salad and Mason Edmunds' Yummy Mummy's fruit and nut chicken salad. In addition to Emily and Mason, Paige Butler, Emma DeSimone and Corrine Pasko prepared salads served in sampling cups, as well as a presentation plates set at the center of each of their tables.

The event took place in the high school cafeteria last Friday afternoon, with each chef being assessed on criteria that included originality, taste, presentation, kid friendliness and use of healthy ingredients. Parents, teachers and friends were on hand to sample the food being prepared with guidance from two volunteer chefs.

The winning student from each participating district will be considered for 27 regional finalists' awards, with those finalists vying to become one of the five national finalists as they compete for public votes for their favorite recipe on a special Future Chefs YouTube channel.

In the end, everyone was a winner, mainly for learning so much about healthy foods. Judges gave Mason, Corrine and Paige bronze medals and Emily the silver, with Emma taking home the gold, as well as a large basket of kitchen items.

The daughter of Michael and Jennifer DeSimone, Emma said she had a lot of fun preparing her dish. "I enjoyed making the recipe for everyone very much. I learned that it is not about winning, it is about the experience of winning at something."

Google Video