ST. ALBANS — Two local teams served up winning dishes at the Jr. Iron Chef VT competition this year: the Pawtastic Chefs from St. Albans Town Educational Center (SATEC) and the ThunderChefs from Missisquoi Valley Union (MVU) Middle/High School.
Hosted at Champlain Valley Exposition by Vermont Feed, a farm to school project, Jr. Iron Chef VT is a statewide culinary competition that challenges teams of middle and high school students to create healthy, local dishes that inspire school meal programs.
SATEC’s two teams, the Pawtastic Chefs and Wildcat Chefs, prepped and cooked their vegetarian dishes in 90 minutes on March 18, competing against 23 other teams, including the Bakersfield Bob Cooks and Team Fairfield.
Under the direction of mother, daughter coaches Jane and Jauna Berry, the Pawtastic Chefs prepared roasted beet hummus sandwiches, earning them the mise en place award. The award is given to the team that shows exemplary teamwork, order and professionalism. The students on Pawtastic Chefs were Maya Belanger, Isabelle Burleson, Will Dumont and Connor Powell.
The Wildcat Chefs made stuffed kale rolls on quinoa. The students on this team were Montana Bourbeau, Mackenzie Casperson, Zachary Martell and Amanda Powers. “The notes for both the teams were extremely positive,” said Berry.
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Both teams have practiced the dishes every week since the beginning of February during the Open Doors Afterschool Program. Connor Powell, a member of the Pawtastic Chefs, said it was interesting to see how different ingredients can be combined to form delicious recipes. He said he was surprised apples and beets go well together.
Many of the students said they compete in the culinary competition every year because they find it challenging, but fun and enjoy spending time with their friends.
A few raised their hands when asked if they plan on making these recipes at home now the competition is over.
“Their personal growth is absolutely amazing and fun to watch,” said Berry. “It’s why I do it every year.”
MVU’s ThunderChefs also won the crowd pleaser award at this year’s Jr. Iron Chef VT with their quinoa spicy stuffed pepper dish. The team, with students Julia Hieden, Brittany Merchant, Chelsea Rocheleau and Leah Small, competed against 13 other high school teams in the afternoon on March 18.
New to the competition this year, MVU also had a team of middle school students compete at the culinary competition. The Jr. ThunderChefs, with students Hailey White, Kenneth Glennon, Austin Britch and Devin Tuttle- Whalon, made their own pasta in 90 minutes, to go with their cauliflower cream cheese alfredo sauce. The teams were led by MVU teacher Alisa Aylward.
The Abbey Group was a sponsor for both teams.
For a copy of the ThunderChefs crowd-pleasing recipe and additional photos, pick up a copy of Friday’s Messenger or subscribe to our digital edition.