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Woodland Third and Fourth Graders learn how to cook healthy meals by competing in the Future Chefs Event

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Third and fourth graders from Woodland Intermediate School competed to create the healthiest breakfast by cooking recipes of their own selection in Sodexo's Future Chefs event held at Woodland High School.

14 Woodland Intermediate School finalists were selected to prepare the healthy breakfast entrees at the Future Chefs Event.
14 Woodland Intermediate School finalists were selected to prepare the healthy breakfast entrees at the Future Chefs Event.

More than 20 students submitted recipes for their favorite healthy breakfast entrees with 14 selected as finalists to participate in the competition where the students worked in teams to prepare each of the recipes. "The concept behind the event is to help educate students about healthy eating habits while also teaching them that food can be fun," explained Lan Ha, Nutrition Services Director for Woodland Public Schools. "We promote food and interaction through this program with this event being the first time we've held one at Woodland."

Ha started the event by presenting to the students and gathered community members the safety procedures for working with ovens, blenders, how to handle knives, and being knowledgeable of kitchen equipment. She also discussed proper food handling techniques with all of the students beginning first by thoroughly washing their hands.

Chefs from the different schools along with high school Culinary Arts students helped students follow proper food safety and cooking utensil handling rules.
Chefs from the different schools along with high school Culinary Arts students helped students follow proper food safety and cooking utensil handling rules.

Student teams, along with adult supervision, prepared enough of each recipe for parents and community members who attended to sample the recipe, while the student who selected the recipe served as the team leader and prepared a display presentation plate. Each team prepared a total of three different recipes. The teams worked hard cracking eggs, cutting up meat, making dough, and cooking their meals, carefully following their recipes and guiding the rest of their team to ensure their food turned out the way they planned.

Chef Robin Boespflug from Battle Ground School District and a Sodexo manager served as judges, sampling each recipe, and judging the overall presentation and healthiness of the winning recipes. Each student received a certificate of participation as well as a medal for having their recipe selected as a finalist. The first place winner was Ashley Calvillo, third grader, with her Cheesy Egg with Fruit Benedict with the second place winner being Gage Fletcher, fourth grader, with his Gage's Breakfast Cook-Ups.

Ashley Calvillo, third grader, won first place with her Cheesy Egg with Fruit Benedict.
Ashley Calvillo, third grader, won first place with her Cheesy Egg with Fruit Benedict.

"I like cooking because you can make new things that are really tasty," said Calvillo. "I want to be a chef when I grow up - I would want to cook every type of food." Fletcher discovered his love of cooking by making food at home with his family. "I love making my Breakfast Cook-Ups because I came up with the recipe myself," he explained. "When I heard about this event, I really wanted to participate because I want to run my own restaurant one day."

Cooking at a younger age has become more popular in recent years thanks to the rise of videos on the Internet and television cooking shows. "A lot of the kids have experience now thanks to food network cooking shows and YouTube videos," explained Ha. "A lot of kids help prepare food at home by watching shows and cooking with their parents and families."

Cooking at a younger age has become more popular thanks to the rise of videos on the Internet and television cooking shows.
Cooking at a younger age has become more popular thanks to the rise of videos on the Internet and television cooking shows.

The Future Chefs program is part of Sodexo's community outreach program with Sodexo sponsoring the event including buying the ingredients for all of the recipes. Sodexo also provided chef hats and coats for each student to keep after wearing them during the event. Woodland High School students enrolled in the Culinary Arts classes also volunteered to help ensure the elementary students followed proper food handling techniques and cooking utensil safety.

Woodland staff members who helped supervise the students included Judy Lute and Cristina Forgery from Woodland Primary school; Annette Kirby and Lucy Dooley from Woodland Intermediate School; and Kelly Newton and Julie Hancock from Woodland High School.

More photos from the event can viewed at the Woodland Public Schools' Facebook Album.