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Saturday, March 15, 2014

High school teams face off in culinary competition

Chef KN Vinod of Indique contemplates the Chantilly culinary team’s entry. [Photo from Real Food for Kids.]
Teams of students from the culinary arts programs at five high schools—Annandale, Falls Church, Chantilly, Edison, and Marshall—competed in the second annual Feeding Academic Success Culinary Challenge March 13 at Falls Church High School.

The teams created vegetarian or vegan entrées that can be adapted for use in the Fairfax County school lunch program. The judging was done by professional chefs.

A team from the Chantilly High School Culinary Academy won, with a lentil shepherd’s pie. Entrees were evaluated for taste, visual presentation, nutrition, and other qualities.

The competition was sponsored by Real Food for Kids, an advocacy group that promotes healthier school meals in Fairfax County Public Schools and programs that educate students and families about healthy lifestyle choices.

The prizes for the winning team included $200 for each team member from Real Food for Kids; professional chef’s knives from Victorinox and Wüsthof; a tour, meeting, and lunch at L’Academie de Cuisine; and internships for team members at Willow Restaurant in Arlington, Restaurant Nora and Ris Restaurant in  Washington, D.C. and Bastille Restaurant and Wine Bar in Alexandria.

The judges included Joseph Comfort of Lebanese Taverna, Janet Yu of Hollywood East, KN Vinod of Indique, food writer Alexandra Greeley, Whole Foods Healthy Foods Specialist Jasmine Simon, and Lt. Gen. Doug Robb, director, Defense Health Agency, U.S. Air Force.

The purpose of the Feeding Academic Success Culinary Challenge is “to show our community the important role students can play to help improve the quality and appeal of meals served in Fairfax County schools,” says JoAnne Hammermaster, executive director of Real Food for Kids.

To help prepare the students for the competition and give them a broader view of vegetarian cooking, chefs Comfort, Vinod, and Yu, along with Todd Gray, executive chef/owner Equinox and Watershed, and Pati Jinich of the public television show “Pati’s Mexican Table” presented cooking demonstrations for the students via Google Hangout.

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