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Sodexo's Future Chef Competition Winner Announced

Fourth grade students competed to be the district Top Chef.

School administrators, teachers, Board of Education members, cafeteria workers, parents and siblings came out in force on March 27, 2013 to support the five students from all over our district who competed in the district finals of Sodexo’s Future Chef Competition. Students prepared healthy salad recipes that were judged by a distinguished panel of judges.

The five fourth graders began preparing their recipes promptly at 4:00pm in the culinary room AE124 at Naugatuck High School. Five mentor chefs, students of Applied Education teacher Barbara Foehl, paired up with the young chefs and volunteered their time to assist with the preparation of the salads. Parents were not allowed into the kitchen as the food was prepared, but watched from the adjacent classroom that was set up with the judges table and a small table for each chef to display their masterpieces. Each of the five competitors plated up a presentation dish, four judges plates, and numerous tasting cups for the spectators to sample.

The competition was sponsored by Sodexo, the company that administers the school cafeterias in the district, and is a national competition. The winner of the borough cook-off will have their recipe offered on the May menu and will go on to compete at the regional level. The final five chefs will have a video of themselves preparing their recipe posted on YouTube and viewers will vote for their favorite recipe.

When all five students had finished their preparation, they presented their salad to the four judges a la the reality show Top Chef.

Nicholas Linton, a fourth grade student of Ms. Schumacher at Hop Brook School, made Nick's Fruit Platter that featured a blue yogurt and Nutella sauce for dipping.

Gina Conforti, who is in Ms. Kapusta's fourth grade at Western School, invented California Taco Salad. This salad was topped with Doritos nacho chips.

Mackenzie Mahoney, from Ms. Yammine's fourth grade at  Andrew Avenue School, made Mackenzie's Ultimate Chicken Salad. Her creation featured dried cranberries.

Laila Shabazz represented Maple Hill School with Laila's Superbowl Salad. This salad included mandarin oranges. Laila is in Ms. Dillon's fourth grade.

Jordan Borges, a student of Mrs. Murtishi at  Hop Brook School, came up with Southwestern Pasta Salad. This salad had a spicy kick.

The salads were judged by a panel of four adults, including Board of Education vice-chair Dorothy Neth-Kunin, Assistant Superintendent Brigitte Crispino, Business Manager Wayne McAllister and Bob Butler. The recipes were judged on originality, healthy attributes, easy preparation, kid friendliness and plate presentation. When the ballots were tallied, the four runner ups were announced in no particular order and awarded a medal. The winner was declared by Kate Murphy, director of food services for the borough. Mackenzie's Ultimate Chicken Salad was named as the ultimate salad. Chef Mackenzie received an iPod touch in addition to her medal.

Congratulations to all of the participants. Every salad was delicious and everyone mentioned how difficult it would be to decide which one we liked best. Best of luck to the winning chef as she moves on to the regional competition.

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Rocky Vitale March 28, 2013 at 02:06 AM
What a wonderful program. Too see the proud faces of the chef's was worth all of their hard work. Parents were beaming and I'm so glad we all had a chance to taste test the great creations. And they were all tasty.
Scott Slauson March 29, 2013 at 01:48 PM
These are some dedicated young chefs and who knows.... we may be going to a fine restaurant in our future of which they are a Head Chef making the finest prepared foods. The lines will be long to get in yet the wait will be worth it.

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