FRANKFORT, Ky. (8/12/13) – The new state high school competition doesn’t involve balls and nets, but pots and pans. The players won’t be shooting three-pointers or running for the goal line, but they’ll be chopping and dicing their way to glory.
The first Kentucky Farm to School Junior Chef Cook Off will take place Aug. 15-23 at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville during the Kentucky State Fair. Fifteen teams survived district and regional competition earlier this year to compete for the Junior Chef title on the Gourmet Garden Stage in the lobby of South Wing A.
“The Junior Chef competition has received a very enthusiastic response in its first year,” Agriculture Commissioner James Comer said. “It has enabled young people throughout Kentucky to learn basic cooking skills and understand the importance of buying local. Perhaps best of all, Sullivan University, our key partner in this endeavor, has very generously offered scholarships to members of the top teams. I encourage everyone to watch these teams in action at the state fair.”
Teams from Bardstown Thomas Nelson, Barren County, Boyle County, Breathitt County, Conner, Fern Creek, Fort Campbell, Madison Southern, Mayfield, Menifee County, Montgomery County, Oldham County, Pikeville, Portland Christian, and Whitley County earned the right to compete for Kentucky Junior Chef champion.
“This is more than just a competition; the students are learning skills such as recipe development, food handling, and food safety,” said Junior Chef Cook Off organizer Tina Garland, coordinator of the Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s Farm to School Program. “The competition provides the opportunity for the youth of Kentucky to make healthy choices and increase consumption of local fresh fruit and vegetables in their diets.”
Sullivan University will offer $70,000 worth of scholarships to members of the top four teams. Sullivan will present a $6,000 scholarship to each member of the winning team, a $4,000 scholarship to each member of the second-place team, and a $2,000 scholarship to each member of the two third-place teams. John Wiley & Sons publishing company will give $600 to the winning team and provide books to any student on the winning team who enters a college culinary program where John Wiley books are sold.
Garland said the winning team also will receive a special secret prize, which will be revealed when Commissioner Comer presents awards to the top four teams after the final cook off on Aug. 23.
The Junior Chef competition is part of the Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s Farm to School Program. Junior Chef encourages high school students to learn how to cook by using local ingredients to prepare healthy meals while at the same time teaching students about agriculture, marketing, organization, teamwork, and community involvement.
The Department’s Farm to School Program connects local farmers to school districts to make fresh Kentucky Proud foods available to Kentucky children. Participating Kentucky school districts spent an estimated $468,000 on local foods during the 2012-2013 school year. A total of 84 school districts are members of the Kentucky Proud program, which helps Kentucky farmers market their products to their local communities.
Information provided by Ted Sloan
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