There’s a saying that goes, if you can’t take the heat, stay out of the kitchen. But don’t tell that to Hopkins junior high students, whose talents could rival those of local chefs. Student culinarians teamed up with Hopkins school chefs as part of the fourth-annual Royal Chef Competition.
Held on May 14 at West Junior High, the competition, similar to the Food Network show “Chopped,” required teams to create a vegetarian meal that kids will love. It had to include a protein, whole grain, and a vegetable.
Three teams competed for the Royal Chef title. They had 90 minutes to prepare the meal and five minutes to present their dish to the panel of judges.
This year’s Royal Chef judges included Superintendent Dr. Rhoda Mhiripiri-Reed, Hopkins School Board Chair Wendy Donovan, West Junior High Assistant Principal Matt Johnson, North Junior High Principal Becky Melville, and Hopkins High School student judge Marco Leon Gil.
While the judges agreed that all three meals were delicious, there was one team who truly brought a recipe for success. The winning dish, created by Team Jedi Panthers, was a Quinoa Street Taco with southwestern slaw, pickled red onion and avocado crema. It was the second year in a row that the team took home the first place title.
Barb Mechura, director of school nutrition, said her favorite part of the competition is watching the intensity of the students and chefs and seeing how hard they work to present a delicious plate to the judges. It’s also a great opportunity
“The students get an opportunity to compete in a way that allows them to express their family’s culture in a way that it relates to food,” Mechura said.
The winners are:
First Place: Team Jedi Panthers
Chef: Andrew Karr
Second Place: Team North Polar Bears
Chef: Paul Kapala
Third Place: Team TBA
James Palm IV
Chef: Ron Peck