Junior Chef Champion Crowned
Feb. 11, 2020
Four talented elementary students from Pflugerville ISD showed what they can do in the kitchen during this year’s annual junior chef recipe competition hosted by Aramark, and each one may have a future in the culinary arts.
Aramark hosted the event for the sixth year asking elementary students to submit their own recipes for consideration and four finalists were chosen finalists in the competition, renamed “Chef Stephanie’s Culinary Crew.”
With the sixth edition of the competition Aramark wanted to elevate the event to include a blind tasting and invited celebrity guest judges to decide the winner.
The four finalists each prepared a sample plating of their dish for display while chefs from Aramark prepared the tastings for the judges based on the finalists’ recipes.
The finalist dishes were: “Comedian Combo” an onion and garlic broth with rice noodles and mushrooms by Alexander Orr of Highland Park Elementary; “Tuna Patties with Sriracha Yogurt Sauce” by Brendan Sherwin of Dearing Elementary; “Chicken Broccoli Pasta Toss” by Edward King from Brookhollow Elementary; and “My Mom’s World’s Best Spicy Chicken Curry” by Kara Knapp from Riojas Elementary.
“We are very fortunate to have the passion and culinary talent that we have in Pflugerville ISD,” said PfISD Food Service Director Geoff Holle. “We wanted to get more creative with this event this year and added the celebrity judges. We already have ideas on how to make it even more special next year for our junior chef finalists. I look forward to this competition every year to how creative and talented many of our students are in the culinary arts.”
Judges tasted each dish not knowing which student’s recipe it was. They judged the food based on originality, taste, incorporation of healthy ingredients, the finalist’s answer on why their recipe is healthy and the judge’s likelihood of eating again.
After tallying the scores, Knapp’s chicken curry recipe won the competition.
All four finalists will be presented with chef’s coats with their name embroidered on them. As the grand champion, Knapp will be recognized at the February PfISD Board of Trustees meeting where she will receive a kitchen starter kit that includes utensils and cookbooks.
PfISD Superintendent Dr. Doug Killian and Pflugerville Mayor Victor Gonzales were among the panel of seven celebrity guest judges along with Hendrickson High School sophomore Caroline Coleman, a previous competitor in the annual event and champion of an episode of Food Network’s Chopped Junior.
Brookhollow Principal Lisa Harris attended the judging to support her finalist and praised the efforts of Aramark for hosting this event every year because it encourages students to pursue knowledge and passion beyond the classroom.
“I want to thank Aramark for what they do with their annual junior chef competition,” Harris said. “Through this they are supporting PfISD’s mission by providing an opportunity for our students to gain knowledge outside of the classroom setting and helping them discover talent that can lead to a potential career.”
Aramark invited elementary students throughout the district to submit recipes they select, create and enjoy to the PfISD Food Service team. The recipes are then reviewed by a team of judges including chefs, a registered dietitian and food service staff to select the finalists.