Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County and Whole Foods Market in Lake Grove coordinated the second annual Junior Iron Chef of Long Island competition on Saturday, March 15. In this one-day cooking challenge, Middle and High School age students competed in teams of three to five, creating vegetarian recipes featuring local products that could ultimately be implemented into school cafeteria menus as healthy food options for students.
Each team was given one hour to prepare their dish to present to nine culinary judges on hand for the event. Twenty Long Island teams from various schools and organizations took part for a chance to claim the Junior Iron Chef of Long Island title. The criteria used for judging was based on taste, presentation, creativity, use of local ingredients, use of USDA ingredients, healthy choices and cafeteria ready entrees.
First-place winner of the high school teams went to Team Mercy girls from Our Lady of Mercy Academy in Syosset. The team consisted of seniors Briege Pilch, Jacqueline Scacco, and Kelsey Capobianco.
Their falafel with strawberries, avocado, couscous and corn in a cilantro lime vinaigrette was inspired by the colors of spring and the goal to eat healthy while being creative with food. It received rave reviews from the judges!
Vito A. Minei, executive director of Cornell Cooperative Extension for Suffolk County and Claire Fastenau, Northeast regional chef for Whole Foods Market, both judges, were so impressed with the talent, enthusiasm and teamwork of all students on hand. They deemed this educational event a huge success in encouraging youth to learn new skills in cooking to lead to a healthier lifestyle.