Farmington Students Square Off in Junior Chef Competition

9/27/2022

Future chefs sharpened their skills in Farmington Municipal School’s first ever Jr. Chef Competition. Students, mostly mid-schoolers, used their own recipes to create a dish that merged with the competition’s theme: New Mexico Proud. Ten teams created one dish to be judged by four professional chefs. By Donna K. Hewett. This story is sponsored by Northern Edge Casino and Distill Beer, Wine, Spirits

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Future chefs sharpen their skills in Farmington Municipal Schools' first ever Junior Chef Competition. Students, mostly middle schoolers, use their own recipes to create a dish that merged with the competition's theme, New Mexico Proud. You're watching the Local News Network brought to you by Distil Beer, Wine, Spirits and Northern Edge Casino. I'm Hailey Opsal. Students met at the gym on the campus of Farmington High School, bringing equipment and staples from home. The school district supplied meat, milk, eggs, and butter. 10 teams each made one individual dish.

We made Volcanic Pasta.

What is that?

So basically it's a Italian-inspired dish and we tried to put like New Mexico into it. So the Italian dish is called Pasta Alisina, and in English that means Assassins Pasta. So basically,

And then for the New Mexico bit of it, we have filling with street corn and other farm fresh vegetables mixed in and cooked.

Students were required to prepare one presentation plate and one tasting plate for a panel of judges. Anthony and his team made green chili chicken enchiladas, but forgot one crucial ingredient.

So then we took the corn tortilla, we added the sauce over it. Normally I would add cheese, but we forgot that.

Okay. Was that a time management issue or,

We forgot to bring it?

Always got to prep and have the ingredients.

Yeah, we only realized we didn't have it when it was basically over, almost over.

Kelli Stradling came up with the idea for a Junior Chef Competition. Stradling is a general manager for K12 by Elior, a food management company that runs schools' food services across the country. Stradling had to hurry to get the competition together, while she still had access to locally grown produce supplied by the Mobile Market truck from San Juan College Food Hub.

This year we did New Mexico Proud. We thought it was a great theme to kick off our first event. Every year we'll pick a theme, generally a food genre that they would cook in. This year we wanted to do New Mexico theme.

The students competed for a $1,000 scholarship opportunity and other awards that included gift certificates from a variety of local businesses.

I think we have a pretty good chance of winning the competition and I just hope that we win at least one of the rewards 'cause it'd be pretty cool to win something like a first time thing like this.

And what's the name of your team?

We are Chef's Choice.

The main purpose of the competition is to provide students with some practical knowledge and skills and to impart a love for fresh whole foods.

Well, we're hoping just to grow it from here. The end goal would be to do it at individual school sites throughout the whole year, one school at a time. And then we're hoping to take the winners from all the schools at the end of the year and do a big throw down with the all the winners from across the district for a final showdown.

Thanks for watching this edition of The Local News Network. I'm Hayley Opsal.

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