The Blue Ribbon Pavilion at the Champlain Valley Expo was filled with delicious aromas last week as more than 50 teams of students from schools all over Vermont went wooden spoon to spatula in the second annual Junior Iron Chef competition.
Teams of three- to five-students prepared a recipe they had devised themselves knowing they would be judged on taste, texture, appearance, creativity, best use of local seasonal ingredients, nutrition and their potential for being on the menu in their school cafeteria some day.
Two teams from Hinesburg Community School, the Hinesburgers and the Veggie Hinesburgers, and a team from Champlain Valley Union High School, the Redhawks, arrived at the exhibition hall equipped with all the ingredients, the cutlery, and the electrical or gas powered appliances, ready to cook.
An air of enthusiasm, teamwork, and intent concentration was everywhere as the middle school teams prepared their u-shaped "kitchens" and waited for the word to begin to cook. Parents, grandparents, schoolmates and the curious watched with interest and students from the Burlington Technical Center conducted interviews for a video they are producing.
The Hinesburg teams made Farmer's Pie and Garden Nuggets, chopping, stirring, plating and waiting for the decision of the judges' panel. The team members were Charles Hemingway, Jasmine Martin, Shelby Yergeau, Russell Fox and Harley and Joseph Marshall. There were a total of 34 teams in the Middle School competition which ran from 9:30 to 11:30 in the morning and was followed by a high school competition with 15 teams.
In the competition for High School teams Champlain Valley Union High School team won the Most Creative award for their Green Pizza, a delicious and attractive creation of pesto, apple slices, onions and cheddar cheese.
The Healthy City team from Burlington High School took the Best and Most Use of Local Ingredients with their Polenta Pizza and Best of Show went to the Hakuna Matata Team from Twin Valley High School in Wilmington for their Veggie Huevos Mullenos.
In the Middle School Competition the Chefs of the Heart from the Patella Home School in Burlington won Most Creative for the Veggie Burgers, the Onion City Aiolers from Winooski Department of Recreation won in the Best and Most Use of Local Ingredients with their Johnny Cake Pakoras with Maple Apple Chutney, and Best of Show went to Hannaford's Top Chefs from Hunt Middle School in Burlington with their New England Harvest One Pot Meal.
Fitting in with the food-themed day, the perimeter of the pavilion was filled with exhibits ranging from cooking demonstrations and grain grinding by City Market, herbs, flowers and vegetables for sale, lending a hint of spring, from Red Wagon Nursery in Hinesburg, and cheese sampling from Shelburne Farms. Ethan and Mike Guillemette from Shelburne had a very popular table, boiling syrup, crushing ice and handing out samples of Sugar on Snow.
Vermont Junior Iron Chef Competition is organized by Vermont FEED (Food Education Every Day) and the Burlington School Food Project to celebrate local and seasonal Vermont foods, encourage students' involvement and creativity in cooking, to highlight local food dishes that can be made by schools and to showcase Vermont farmers and products.
Shelburne Farms has been a key participant in developing and implementing both the Vermont FEED program and the Burlington School Food Project, cultivating links among classrooms, cafeterias, local farms and communities.
For more pictures of this event go to www.addison-eagle.com in the galleries section.