Wearing chef's hats, smocks and aprons, 10 pint-sized cooks took over the Barlow High School culinary arts room on Friday to whip up some tasty — as well as healthy — treats. They furrowed their brows as they leaned over kitchen counters and chopped, mixed and carefully assembled their creations, each nervously hoping that their entry in the Future Chefs competition would wow the judges.
"It's pretty exciting. We've never done this before," said Hogan Cedars Principal Elaine Luckenbaugh.
Four students from Kelly Creek Elementary School and six from Hogan Cedars scrambled, sautéed and tossed their way through the competition. They were assisted by two of Barlow's 400 culinary students Dylan Jackson and Jacob Reedy and Gresham-Barlow's Head Chef Tod Roberts, who contracts with the district through U.S. Sodexo food services.
"Oh yes! I'm very excited," said celebrity judge Junki Yoshida, owner of Riverview Restaurant and foods magnate. "I hope they come to work at the Riverview Restaurant."
Maggie Moffat, from Kelly Creek Elementary School, was making her own creation — emoji egg cups. Inspired by her mom's version of the breakfast, she put hash browns in the base of a muffin tin and filled the cups with a mixture of eggs, chives, turkey sausage and low fat cheese.
"The yellow reminded me of an emoji," she said, so she decorated the tops with strips of red pepper and sliced black olives in various combinations to look like the popular ideograms.
"I love emojis," she said.
Asked if she practiced, she said she made three batches to perfect her technique before the big day. Her family, however, was not sick of eating the egg cups.
"You can freeze them, and then the kids can microwave them in the morning," she explained.
The contest was organized by Sodexo, the food services company that makes meals for Gresham-Barlow students and others across the U.S. Sodexo's Future Chefs competition is also offered in other school districts, but this was the first time for Gresham-Barlow.
The idea behind the contest is for the students to create or modify a healthy recipe. The elementary schools do not have culinary programs, but all the fifth graders at the two schools were briefed on the contest.
Some submitted recipes and these 10 were chosen to compete at the Friday, March 10, event at Barlow.
"They're doing great," said Jacob Reedy, a Barlow senior. Of the 10 recipes, "I thought the sweet potato apple muffins were interesting." They were created by Skye Powell of Hogan Cedars Elementary School.
Aden Panit from Hogan Cedars made stuffed potato skins. He stuffed the scooped-out spuds with a mix of ground turkey, cheese, chives and potato. He said he looked online for inspiration and crafted the recipe from several different ideas.
Chayse Richardson, also from Hogan Cedars, made her own creation called "Start Your Day Out Right," which was scrambled eggs on toast artfully arranged with fresh fruit. "I made it up," she said when asked about the recipe. Her mom, Pamela, appreciated the confidence-building experience. "She is so proud," she said smiling at her daughter.
Delaney Tuke from Hogan Cedars made a "healthy breakfast burrito" and her classmate Braden Delzer whipped up "paleo chicken nuggets." Isabella Gilmour from Kelly Creek presented "old fashioned turkey stroganoff," and oatmeal waffles were the speciality of Hogan Cedars' Kiersten Langford.
"Pizza tot muffins" were served by Madison Hodge from Kelly Creek, and her classmate Maggie Gilmour made "marvelous sweet and sour meatloaf."
In addition to Yoshida, the judges were Bruce Schmidt, principal of Barlow High School; Rep. Carla Piluso, who is also on the chairwoman of Gresham-Barlow School Board; Julie Evans, Gresham-Barlow director of elementary education; Kirk French, president of the Gresham City Council; and John Hartsock, a project manager and member of the Gresham-Barlow School Board.
And the winner? After some agonizing by the judges over all the yummy offerings, Gilmour took third place for her meatloaf, Hodge took second for her pizza tot muffins, and Moffat won the top prize for those emogi egg cups.