Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Part II: Iron Chef, the kid's edition

Last week, I attended the second half of the Boulder Valley School District's Iron Chef competition for kids. This time around, the competitors were middle schoolers, grade 6-8. Definitely more skills here - very serious kitchen skills!

The rules are:
  • cook up a lunch meal that comes in under $1.20 per student
  • must include a serving of milk, fruit, veggies, whole grain, and protein
  • all the ingredients have to be available to the district's food service
  • do it in 90 minutes
Judging categories include adherence to the rules, as well as appearance, flavor, and proper sanitation. The judging was done by the district chefs, two elementary school students, two middle school students, and 3 community judges including Bradford Heap who owns two restaurants in the area and is a self-described Ann Cooper fan.

Ann Cooper is a huge champion of getting real food into school lunches and we in Boulder are lucky to have her running the district's food service operations. She is a supporter of the Food Revolution and is working hard to change what school children are fed through numerous organizations such as the The Lunch Box and Food Family Farming Foundation, Salad Bars to Schools, and Lunch Lessons. She is one busy lady!

Four teams competed, representing three schools:

The Crazy Cajuns from Centennial Middle School prepared Mexican Street Tacos filled with chicken and some fresh pico de gallo. This was served with Mexican rice and sensational lime-zest flavored black beans.

The Flaming Lemons, also of Centennial Middle School, served a Pesto Turkey Panini filled with sautéed red peppers and mozzarella cheese and a colorful fruit salad on the side.

The Monarch Mustangs showed some fancy plating skills with their Rubik's cube of watermelon and pineapple served with a Philly-style cheesesteak hoagie and "Quickles," their version of quickie pickles. They gave me the recipe for the Quickles, which they said I could share with you. Quite tasty!

Finally, Aspen Creek's Blue Striped Pineapples made a chicken gyro open-faced sandwich served with a Tzatski sauce and Greek salad. Fresh and tasty and showing off some very nice knife skills.

And the winner, for the second year in a row, was the Crazy Cajuns.

The Crazy Cajuns accepting their certificates and a check for Centennial's PTA from Ann Cooper
Each and every participant did a great job. Their food looked and tasted great. Congratulations, awesome young chefs!

(from the Monarch Mustangs of Louisville, Colorado)

These are great with sandwiches, particularly cheesesteak!

½ cup rice wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 pinch kosher salt
1 pinch black pepper
2 large cucumbers, peeled and cut into ⅛" slices

In a bowl, whisk together the vinegar, honey, soy sauce, salt, and pepper until combined. Add the sliced cucumbers and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Overnight is even better, they say.  I tried them after about 1 hour and they were delicious.

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