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Pass the Paleo Tacos! SASF’s First “Chopped” Cooking Competition

Posted on: February 16th, 2017

On December 28th, 2016, SASF hosted its first ever Elementary School Division Chopped Cooking Competition at PS 134 in the Bronx. Each of the four elementary schools that participated brought special techniques learned in nutrition classes and in their home kitchens to create original healthy dishes. PS 9 and PS 134 in the Bronx, PS 309 in Brooklyn and PS 96 in Queens took flavor to the next level, drawing competition inspiration from SASF Food Explorers, a nutrition curricula many sites have incorporated into their wellness programs since the summer of 2015.

“We start with washing our hands and putting our hairnets on!” Marlo Dublin, SASF’s Health and Wellness Manager announced as the students and staff prepared for what was sure to be an intense day of competing.

Marlo added, “And remember, much like in the operating room, once we wash our hands, we don’t touch a thing!”

SASF’s own version of Chopped, a popular reality cooking show, hosts a friendlier competition. Students and spectators alike are there to learn more about nutrition…and of course, to have some fun along the way!

“Cooking competitively gives students confidence and the valuable life experience of working creatively in teams,” Marlo shared. “I hope all participants were inspired by this Chopped competition and are now motivated to continue exploring the culinary arts.”

For the first round, students worked together to create a special snack dish for our judges. Each round was judged on creativity, flavor, texture, presentation and nutritional value. The competition was fierce, but with the support of SASF staff, students thought on their feet. Strategy and planning was key.

“Let’s do a berry parfait!,” a student from P.S. 134 exclaimed.

“I learned how to peel a carrot like this from my 13-year-old cousin, “ another student shared with his peers.

After a quick mid-day lunch, participants jumped back in for the final round: the main dish. The pressure was on.

From Paleo Tacos to a “Sidekick Salad” with a “Power Punch” dressing, SASF judges had their work cut out for them.

At the end of the competition, 1st, 2nd and 3rd place trophies were awarded to sites based on total scores. Every student left a winner with a Chef’s Hat Medal of Honor for all of their hard work.

Shanon Morris, Director of Sports and Wellness, was impressed with the engagement of participating elementary schools at the event. She hopes to replicate it for students of all ages. “Creativity comes in all shapes and sizes, and the Elementary Chopped Competition was a great example of just that. Every person, staff member and student were actively engaged, sharing ideas, cutting, mixing and tasting. Food has a funny way of bringing people together!”

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