Today was such an exciting day: teens working together, teams planning a meal, smells floating through the air, skills at work, sweat and pressure, an amazing display in Greeneville, TN! Debbie here from Rural Resources, and we were pleased to organize our 2nd teen chopped cook-off with teens who have been through, at least, our cooking program. We had 10 teens who competed for best meal. Teens were judged on 6 objectives: food handling, teamwork, use of secret ingredients, taste/quality, presentation, and use of local ingredients. All the skills they have learned in the years are put to the test! Teens were split into three teams, and have spent two weeks planning and testing meal options. All their knowledge is thrown out and pooled together to prepare a plated meal in 1.5 hours. Not to add more pressure, but we gave the groups two secret ingredients that they must incorporate into their dish. The secret ingredients were revealed moments before time to turn on the stoves and begin preparing their meals. Our secret ingredients this year were local fresh sage and locally grown white potatoes. Before hand, teens were told they would have sausage from our farm and local ground beef from Graysburg Farm. As go is announced, mass mobs run to the kitchen to grab their first choice of items to incorporate into their dishes, and all the potential local ingredients they can find. The heat is on!
Here is what the teams were competing for:
The teams each receive a prize – first place getting their very own set of pans. The teams prepared some wonderful food, and I know the judges must have had a hard time selecting the winners. Here are a few shots of the food and action at their cooking stations:
The teens worked very well amongst their own group, and with the other groups. The audience enjoyed walking around, smelling, watching, and waiting for their chance to taste the art coming out of these work stations. The judges walked around and asked many questions, observed many things, smelled many smells, and mouths watering over anticipation of the plates they would be presented. When time was called, all the teams had plated 4 plates for the judges, and were eager to present their dishes for judging. The following dishes were presented, in the order in which they won:
In first was the group who called themselves the “Jumping Amazing Super Optimistic Noodle Squad”. They won a set of pans, and plated this beautiful display. They used local lettuce, local fennel, local apples, and local honey to make a honey vinegarette dressing to top the salad. In the middle is a bowl of spaghetti with a homemade sauce using local tomatoes and herbs, topped with meatballs stuffed with local cheddar cheese. Oh sooo yummy!
In second place is the group “Shake n Bake”, taking home a set of anchor hocking baking wear and a set of salt and pepper mills. They prepared a black and blue burger, hot potato salad, and a local lettuce salad with local tomatoes and apples. And the burger, oh yeah! very very good!
And in third, were the eLEMONators, winning a mixer. They prepared locally grown bell peppers stuffed with quoina, local tomatoes, and herbs, sitting on top of mashed potatoes! The peppers were cooked to perfection and the cheese on top was a delight!
It is such an honor to work with such talent and watch them blossom through the years, able to handle themselves in a competition like this with no help from chefs! It was a wonderful day and everyone had such a good time. The younger teens, who will begin cooking next year, enjoyed helping out today, and I believe, we will have some new chefs bringing their all to the block next year!