The theme was “healthy comfort foods” — the winning entry in the Future Chef Challenge was spaghetti prepared by Martin Echeverria Fuentes, first-grade student at Calabasas School.
Fuentes’ recipe was straightforward: Boil pasta with salt and olive oil. Once ready, drain pasta and leave on pot. Add butter, tomato sauce, garlic salt and mix. Serve with cheese.
The competition, held for all SCVUSD elementary students, was organized by Javier Campos, Sodexo Food Services Director. Students were invited to submit a recipe for their favorite comfort food.
The initial field of 150 competitors was narrowed to four finalists from each of the district’s three elementary schools. Finalists were invited to participate in the “cook off” at Calabasas School. Recipes were judged on taste, presentation, originality, healthiness, and ease of preparation.
Competitors were outfitted, trained, and given a fully stocked workstation. At registration, students received a chef coat, chef hat, apron and cut glove. Then it was off to the kitchen for a quick lesson on handwashing, slip prevention, cut prevention, and burn prevention from Sodexo Chef Luis. Finally, students were escorted to their assigned work station where the student’s recipe, materials, equipment, and a personal assistant from Sodexo were waiting for each. They were given two hours to create a presentation plate and samples for the judges and parents.
Judges were Susan Faubion (SCVUSD Governing Board Member), Maria Quintero (Rio Rico High School Culinary Alumni), Marcelo Ibarra-Vallejo (2016 Future Chefs Champion), and Sandra Escobar (2015 Future Chefs Champion).
Second place went to Alyssa Martinez, third-grade student from San Cayetano. Her entry was gluten free apple pancakes. Winning third place was Xzavier, first-grade student from Calabasas, for his cheesy Italian sweet potato bites.
“This is my one of my favorite events of the year,” said Calabasas Principal, John Fanning. “Not only am I amazed at the talent, but I look forward to tasting the delicious food. They are all winners in my mind.”