Junior Iron Chef is a state-wide cooking competition that gives students an opportunity to gain hands-on experience preparing and cooking nutritious, farm fresh foods. Teams of middle and high school students are invited to create dishes using seasonal and local ingredients.
The ENCORE after-school program at North Country Junior High School in Derby, funded through a 21st Century grant, allowed the school's students to meet after school one to two times per week for two months, learning various food preparation and cooking techniques and how to function as an efficient, cooperative team.
Students carefully reviewed the list of acceptable ingredients comprised primarily of Vermont grown products including Cabot cheese, maple syrup and various vegetables. They also had to be sure that the final product would be delicious, nutritious and easily prepared in a school cafeteria. Taking all these requirements into account, the "Sizzling Falcons" team decided on a vegetable bake over dish. They relied on friends, family and classmates to become taste testers as they tweaked the recipe to perfection.
When the day of the competition arrived on March 24, students embarked on the two- hour trip to Burlington where they joined over 200 middle school and high school participants. With 52 middle school teams and 19 high school teams the competition was fierce!
The Sizzling Falcons, coached by Kim Haley and Josee Brandstetter won the "crowd pleaser" award, also known as "Best in Show."
Members of the team include Nathan Grimm, McKenzie Hayes, Nathaniel Prue, Daemmieon Blacketer and Brandon Parrish. The young and talented chefs will head to Montpelier on April 13 to serve their dish to the Vermont state legislators.