Crystal Lake School District 47 food service provider Sodexo hosted the fourth annual Future Chefs culinary competition March 16 at Hannah Beardsley Middle School.
Open to fourth- and fifth-grade students, the competition is designed to help students learn about good nutrition, develop healthy eating habits and inspire them to play an active role in meal preparation.
The theme for this year’s competition was “healthy fiesta.” After submitting recipes for consideration, nine winning students were chosen to participate in the cook-off, where they prepared their dish for judges.
Entries were evaluated on originality, ease of preparation, taste, presentation, kid-friendly appeal and healthfulness. This year’s winner was Gabriela Carrillo, a fourth-grade student from Coventry Elementary School. As the winner, Carrillo received an Amazon Echo, a set of pots, pans and cooking utensils and a gift certificate from Taqueria Las Cumbres.
She now advances to the Sodexo Future Chefs regional competition and will be featured at Taqueria Las Cumbres, 93 Grant St. in Crystal Lake. Other Future Chefs finalists received cooking utensils, a diffuser water bottle, a kite and a chef coat and hat.
Carrillo got her start in cooking by watching TV shows such as “Nailed It” and “Sugar Rush,” and by helping her parents prepare meals at home. She said she entered the Future Chefs contest because she thought it would be fun to try making something by herself.
“I was scared at first, but the Sodexo workers helped me get started. I am thankful to them for helping me and am surprised I won.” Carrillo said.
This year’s judges included district principals John Jacobsen (Glacier Ridge Elementary School), Steve Scarfe (Bernotas Middle School) and Angie Compere (Lundahl Middle School); district bilingual parent liaison Marilyn Massart; restaurant owners Sergio Perez and Guadelupe Juarez (Taqueria Las Cumbres); and McHenry County College culinary chair Tina Drzal.
The 2019 Future Chef finalists and their recipes are listed below:
• Kylie Bagdon (fourth-grader at Glacier Ridge Elementary School): Mango guacamole
• Shaun Brewis (fifth-grader at Glacier Ridge Elementary School): Cilantro lime shrimp wraps
• Isla Browne (fourth-grader at Husmann Elementary School): Mexican pizza
• Gabriela Carrillo (fourth-grader at Coventry Elementary School): Baked enchiladas
• Bryleigh Cooper (fourth grader at Woods Creek Elementary School): Fiesta guacamole
• Adam Kobeluch (fifth grader at Indian Prairie Elementary School: Rice fiesta bowls
• Jack Powell (fourth grader at West Elementary School): Taco cups
The Future Chefs program exemplifies Sodexo’s commitment to health, well-being and support for the school districts and communities it serves.