Dozens of young chefs from around the region will come to SUNY Cobleskill on April 1 for a chance to show off their culinary skills and improve school lunch menus in the fourth annual Jr. Iron Chef Competition.
This is the second year that SUNY Cobleskill is hosting the event.
The competition is sponsored by SUNY Cobleskill, the Bassett Research Institute's 5-2-1-0 Initiative, and the Rural Health Education Network of Schoharie, Otsego and Montgomery Counties.
It challenges teams of middle school and high school students to prepare dishes from original recipes using both locally sourced and commodity ingredients as they race against the clock. The students learn valuable cooking skills and healthy eating habits while the winning dishes have a chance to become part of regular lunch menus at schools throughout the region.
"Creating a new recipe and especially cooking with friends is what brings excitement to the Jr. Iron Chef competition," said Christine Burrington, 5-2-1-0 project coordinator.
"Each year, the student chefs amaze me with their clever titles for dishes and innovative use of ingredients. It's gratifying to see how seriously they take the competition and to know that many of these kids will have better health because of the skills they learn and will use for the rest of their lives."
"This is a great community event that showcases up-and-coming culinary talent," said Joanne Cloughly, professor and chair of Agriculture and Food Management at SUNY Cobleskill.
"It's an excellent way to pair our Culinary Arts students with aspiring chefs, showcase our culinary facilities, and work with Bassett Hospital and the local community. We truly look forward to hosting this event each year."
The competition will feature 14 teams in the high school division and 14 teams in the middle school division representing Chenango, Delaware, Otsego, Schoharie, Montgomery, Fulton, Oneida and Herkimer counties.
The students are required to develop healthy, vegetarian recipes using at least two ingredients from Central New York and two USDA/Commodity foods that are available to schools through the National School Lunch program. After the competition, the recipes are shared with school districts throughout the region with the hopes they'll be incorporated into school meal plans.
The day-long competition will be held at Champlin Hall at SUNY Cobleskill. This year, families and supporters of the competitors will be treated to tours of the SUNY Cobleskill campus while the competition is under way.