Northgate’s “Future Chefs”

Judges Sean and Mike with Nancy Silay, along with the finalists pictured, from left: Zoe Russell, 3rd grade, Bellevue (Asian Salad); Elijah Swiger, 4th grade, Bellevue (Rice to meat ya, sweet pea); Joh Wright, 4th grade, Bellevue (Sweet & Spicy Chicken); Kara Elliot, 6th grade, Avalon (Sweet & Spicy Chicken); Charlie Tabano, Avalon, 4th grade (Charlie Rolls with Awesome Sauce; Layla Young-Taylor, Avalon, 3rd grade, (Vegan Fried Rice); and Superintendent Carolyn Johns.Photo by Tom Steiner for The Citizen

The objective for a school program that gets kids involved in kitchen activities remains the same every year, that being: It’s never too early to teach kids the benefits of healthy eating, while at the same time, they have the opportunity to show grownups some recipes that are easy to prepare, that kids like, and that are tasty as well as healthy.

Now in its fifth year, a program taught Northgate elementary school students about the importance of healthy eating while sharpening their culinary skills, thanks to education partner and Quality of Life Services provider Sodexo and its annual Future Chefs Challenge. The national initiative, now in its seventh year, was created to get students thinking about making healthy food choices while also encouraging them to become active and creative in the kitchen.

By the time the young chefs finished dishing up their creations, everyone agreed that they had achieved their goal.

This year, 34 Avalon and Bellevue elementary students, grades 3-6, submitted healthy dinner and snack recipes, with the six best selected to participate in the district-wide finals event held just prior to spring break in the high school cafeteria. Finalists prepared and presented their creations before being assessed on criteria that included originality, taste, ease of presentation, kid friendliness, and use of healthy ingredients.

The theme for this year’s recipes focused on Asian-themed recipes, with students given the option to create their own dish or to modify one that had already been prepared.

Based upon the same criteria used to determine the six finalists, judges Sean and Mike, chefs at Tallulah’s Catering in Etna, along with Avalon Elementary secretary Nancy Silay named Kara Elliott the gold medalist and Joh Wright the silver medalist, with the other four finalists being named bronze medalists.

Julianne Griffin, General Manager-Food Services for the Northgate School District said, “This is an event that I look forward to every year. They all did an amazing job and I feel lucky to get to work with these talented future leaders in the food ser-vice industry.”