Eighth graders to compete in quarterly cooking competition

In less than three weeks, eighth grade culinary arts students will compete in Middlebrook’s third cooking competition of the year.
“I started this competition last year and we do it every quarter,” said culinary arts teacher Heather Priest. “At the end of a quarter, eighth graders are given three days — one day to research recipes and two days to prepare.”
On the first day, Ms. Priest said, students research recipes with their teams, which are each composed of five or six students.
“They find recipes to complement each other. They have to have a poultry dish, a vegetable dish and a grain dish, which can’t be white rice or bread,” said Ms. Priest.
“They have to have a vegetable other than a potato or corn, unless they pair it with something else. It has to be some kind of green, leafy or red or orange vegetable.”

In her culinary classes, Ms. Priest said, she teaches students “how to match colors and textures and different styles.”
“We go over plating — how to contrast colors and all that kind of stuff, which the students are pretty familiar with,” she said.
“For example, if you put a piece of plain chicken next to a pile of brown rice and a potato, not only is it not healthy but it’s also not appetizing, because it’s a big pile of brown.”
Sixteen teams will participate in this quarter’s competition, said Ms. Priest, who teaches four sessions of eighth grade culinary arts, each of which has four teams.
Ms. Priest said the students will present their meals and have them judged on Tuesday, March 31, and Wednesday, April 1.

“The judges are my fellow STRIDE [Students Turning Risks Into Diverse Experiences] teachers, so I have health teachers, music teachers, I-Stem teachers,” said Ms. Priest.
“I keep judging consistent and make sure the same judges are tasting everybody’s food so there’s no bias.”
After tasting each dish, the judges will choose the winner, which Ms. Priest will announce on Thursday, April 2.
“The winning meal gets featured in the school cafeteria,” said Ms. Priest. “The kids come in to the cafeteria and put on the hats and aprons, and they get to serve and do samples for all their fellow classmates. It’s a fun day.”
Ms. Priest said the winning dish of the last competition was a “yogurt-marinated, crunchy oven-baked chicken.”
“They used maltose crackers and Rice Krispies for the breading and they first marinated it in yogurt and then baked it in the oven,” explained Ms. Priest.
“Then they had a spicy dipping sauce — a yogurt sauce — and rosemary barley on the side, with green beans and blistered tomatoes — they sautéed the tomatoes in garlic and then added fresh green beans to it.”