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Future chefs plan perfect recipe for culinary competition
Elementary students cook Asian-inspired recipes March 28

At 2:30 p.m. March 28, five Cottonwood-Oak Creek students will compete in the eighth annual Sodexo Future Chefs Challenge, held at Dr. Daniel Bright School in Cottonwood. (VVN/Bill Helm)

At 2:30 p.m. March 28, five Cottonwood-Oak Creek students will compete in the eighth annual Sodexo Future Chefs Challenge, held at Dr. Daniel Bright School in Cottonwood. (VVN/Bill Helm)

— First you cook it. Then you eat it.

For five of Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District’s students, the eighth annual Sodexo Future Chefs Challenge is an opportunity to use their creativity and culinary skills to make Asian-inspired dishes that are both healthy and delicious.

This year’s competition began when 38 of the district’s students submitted their healthiest Asian-inspired recipes. Of those who entered, the five best recipes were selected.

The winning recipes were created by five students – Cottonwood Elementary School students Caleb Thompson-Cope (third grade), Melissa Decker (third grade) and Kaylee Sharber (fourth grade), as well as Oak Creek School third-grader Elizabeth Cowgill and Mountain View Preparatory fifth grader Madison Lusebrink.

Beginning at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 28, the five finalists will prepare and present their tasty treats, and will be judged based on kid-friendliness, originality, taste and use of healthy ingredients.

The district’s winning student will be considered for regional finalist awards. Selected regional finalists will compete to become one of five national finalists.

Cottonwood-Oak Creek’s five finalists are among more than 2,600 young epicureans who will represent more than 1,300 Sodexo-served school sites in 30 states nationally.

Although March 28 marks COCSD’s fourth consecutive year participating in the annual competition, Sodexo started the program as a part of former First Lady Michelle Obama’s ‘Let’s Move’ initiative to end childhood obesity.

Provided they adhere to Arizona Department of Education requirements, all meals prepared by the finalists will become part of the school district’s list of meals and caterings.

According to Cheryl Weaver, Food Services Director for Sodexo, each of the finalists will take home a substantial gift basket of cooking utensils, as well as a t-shirt, apron and chef’s hat.

The first place winner will also receive a Polaroid Snap camera, Fit Bit, a wok, a pot and pan set, measuring cups and measuring spoons, and a silicon cutting board.

Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District’s third Future Chef competition will be held from 2:30 p.m. until 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 28 in the cafeteria of Dr. Daniel Bright Elementary School, located at 1500 S. Monte Tesoro Drive in Cottonwood.

At 2:30 p.m., the future chef finalists are scheduled to arrive. At 3 p.m., the future chefs will begin to cook their meals. At 5 p.m., judges will taste and evaluate the meals. The awards ceremony will take place beginning at 5:30 p.m.

-- Follow Bill Helm on Twitter @BillHelm42

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