Future chefs competition sparks creativity; students learn culinary skills, healthy eating
COTTONWOOD – For six students at Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District, the district’s annual Future Chef competition is a chance to display their culinary skills as they both prepare and eat healthy foods.
Though March 29 marks COCSD’s third student cook-off, Sodexo has conducted the program for the past seven years as a part of former First Lady Michelle Obama’s ‘Let’s Move’ initiative to end childhood obesity.
All meals prepared by the finalists, provided they adhere to Arizona Department of Education requirements, will become part of the school district’s list of breakfasts and caterings, according to Cheryl Weaver, Food Services Director of Sodexo, a quality of life services organization.
By the district’s March 1 deadline, 21 of the district’s aspiring epicureans submitted recipes to the Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District office. From there, staff selected the finalists based on ease of recipe and whether a given recipe could be prepared within the 1 hour 45 minute allotted time, Weaver also said.
This year’s finalists are third grader Kaylee Sharber and fifth grader Nikki Ray from Cottonwood Elementary School, fourth grader Mia Barre and fifth grader Conner Reilly from Mountain View Preparatory, and fourth grader Jacy Holt and fifth grader Willie Hunt from Oak Creek School.
For Hunt, this is the second year he will compete in the Future Chef competition. According to Weaver, young Willie’s reaction was “the same as last year.”
“He cried,” Weaver said. “He was so happy.”
A fifth grader last year at Cottonwood Elementary School, Macy Randall won the district’s second Future Chef. Now a sixth grader at Cottonwood Middle School, Macy will be one of the helpers in the kitchen for this year’s competition.
Each of the finalists will take home a substantial gift basket of cooking utensils, as well as a t-shirt, apron, chef’s hat and cook book, Weaver said.
The first place winner will also receive a Cuisinart caddy and utensils, Fit Bit, a Future Chefs backpack, measuring cups and a silicon cutting board, spiral splicer and a six-axis quad copter, which Weaver said “looks like a remote controlled drone.”
The winner will also receive a 17-piece measuring prep kit, which includes timer, bowls, measuring cups and measuring spoon.
Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District’s third Future Chef competition will be held from 2:30 p.m. until 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 29 in the cafeteria of Dr. Daniel Bright Elementary School, located at 1500 S. Monte Tesoro Drive in Cottonwood.
Meet the Future Chef finalists
Finalists for this year’s Future Chef competition for Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District, March 29 at Dr. Daniel Bright Elementary School:
Cottonwood Elementary School
Third grader Kaylee Sharber will make ‘Grandma’s Macaroni and Cheese’
Fifth grader Nikki Ray will make ‘Berry Smoothie’
Mountain View Preparatory
Fourth grader Mia Barre will make ‘Surprise’
Fifth grader Conner Reilly will make ‘Avocado Truffles’
Oak Creek School
Fourth grader Jacy Holt will make ‘Cauliflower Pizza’
Fifth grader William Hunt will make ‘Sloppy Joe Sliders’