The student culinary team from Apex High School in Wake County won first place for the second year running in the 2020 North Carolina Jr. Chef Competition, held Friday at Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte. The team’s banh mi with turkey meatballs and slaw brought the trophy home for Sydney Brock, Demaree Persson and Molly Todd.
The Ashe County High “Husky Culinary” team won second place with its Carolina BBQ pork nachos. The Swain County High team took third place with its "South of the Smokies" vegetarian black beans and rice dish.
All the student chefs showcased their skills in a tight race, presenting dishes with creative ingredients and diverse flavors. First- through third-place teams received gold medals. All other competitors received silver medals in the N.C. Jr. Chef Competition: “Clyde’s Country Caviar” from Erwin High in Buncombe County (Carolina bison bowl), the “Yellow Jackets” from Hayesville High in Clay County (Asian exploration), and the “Southern Spice Girls” from Southern Lee High in Lee County (sweet Carolina chicken bang bang).
As part of the competition, students were challenged to work with their Family and Consumer Sciences teachers and School Nutrition administrators to develop a creative recipe for a school lunch entrée that meets the National School Lunch Program nutrition standards, includes at least two North Carolina-grown products and one USDA Foods item, is replicable by School Nutrition Programs, and meets student taste-test preferences. Based on recipes and applications submitted, finalist teams were selected to participate in the cook-off. During the live cook-off, each team prepared, cooked and presented their dish along with the results of student taste tests and surveys to judges. Teams were also evaluated and recognized for their ability to work together to demonstrate valuable skills in recipe development, food preparation, marketing, public presentation, organization, and local food systems.
As Career and Technical Education Family and Consumer Sciences students, participation in the N.C. Jr. Chef Competition offers an invaluable opportunity to translate skills learned in the classroom to real-world kitchens, developing recipes that districts across the state have the option of including on future school menus. In this way, the Jr. Chef Competition fulfills the goals of inspiring the next generation of culinary professionals, stimulating interest in locally produced agriculture, increasing participation in School Nutrition Programs, providing nutrition education, and encouraging healthy eating habits.
As part of Friday’s cook-off, Sullivan University in Kentucky – the location of the Southeast Jr. Chef Competition – is offering the following scholarships to each student team member: 1st place - $16,000, 2nd place - $10,000, 3rd place - $6,000. North Carolina will compete May 7-8 against other Southeast state teams for the following scholarships to attend Sullivan University: 1st place - full tuition and fees (value of $45,000 - $55,000 each), 2nd place - tuition (value of $47,000 each), 3rd place - $20,000 scholarship.