Elementary school students show their stuff in culinary competition

Mykenzie Nelson’s sandwich recipe came to her in a flash of inspiration while sitting down recently for a snack with her grandmother.

“We had a croissant, because we felt like having a croissant,” the Lafayette Elementary School fifth-grader said. “And I thought of cream cheese and berries and said, how about we do a berry surprise? My grandma said, ‘That’s brilliant!’”

Mykenzie’s favorite berries, in preferential order, are raspberries, strawberries, blueberries and blackberries. She combined all four for her “Berry Surprize Sandwich,” which took first in the “Fun Foods” category Friday at the Greater Albany Public Schools Future Chefs Elementary Culinary Competition at South Albany High School.

“We just threw them together and we all enjoyed it,” she said.

This year’s event brought together 10 fourth- and fifth-graders from eight Albany elementary schools to compete in the category of “Favorite Healthy Sandwich.” They were the finalists from recipe entries submitted by more than 100 Albany elementary students, said Sharon Short, nutrition services director for the school district.

Three students from the culinary class at Albany Options School and a handful of adult food service employees from the school district served as coaches for the competition.

Chris Morris, also of Lafayette, was the overall grand prize winner with his recipe, “Bagel Club Sandwich.” The fifth-grader, who found his inspiration in a cookbook, combined slices of roasted turkey with strips of bacon, then topped them with avocado, Swiss cheese and tomato.

Chris’ concoction will be made into a YouTube online video and the recipe will be forwarded to a national “Future Chef” contest sponsored by Sodexo, the company that provides meals for the Albany schools. Short said the number of entries likely will be somewhere in the 500 range and she should know the winner sometime next month.

Addison Watts, a fourth-grader from Oak Elementary, took top honors in the “Health Conscious” category with her cucumber sandwich, which she said is one of her favorites.

Sunrise fifth-grader Sierra Bellinger’s presentation for her recipe, a tortilla wrap called, “Chicken in a Blanket,” won for “Best Table.”

Cristian Moreno, a fifth-grader at Waverly Elementary School, piled ham, lettuce and tomato on wheat bread spread with mayonnaise and dubbed the result, “Delicious Sandwich.” It’s a favorite he said he’s enjoyed since he was 5 years old and it earned him a first place in the “Kid Friendly” category.

The idea of the contest is to point children toward more healthy eating choices, Short said, but it might also spark interest in a future career.

“I also want to inspire a future chef,” she said.

FUTURE CHEF WINNERS

Health-Conscious Foods: Addison Watts

Simple, Kid-Friendly Preparation: Cristian Moreno

Fun Foods: Mykenzie Nelson

Best Table Presentation: Sierra Bellinger

Overall Grand Prize: Chris Morris

Jennifer Moody is the education reporter for the Democrat-Herald. She can be reached at 541-812-6113 or jennifer.moody@lee.net.

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Education Reporter

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