Apex High Culinary Clinches Jr. Chef Title

Raleigh, NC

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.

The School Nutrition and District Operations Division and Career and Technical Education Division at the N.C. Department of Public Instruction partnered with the N.C. Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services (NCDA&CS) Farm to School Program, N.C. FCCLA (Family, Career and Community Leaders of America) and the Farm to School Coalition of North Carolina (F2SCNC) to plan the Jr. Chef Competition. The competition would not have been possible without the generous support of the following sponsors: F2SCNC (Platinum), NCDA&CS Food Distribution Division (Platinum), North Carolina Chapter of Les Dames d'Escoffier (Platinum), N.C. Sweet Potato Commission (Gold), Johnson & Wales University (Silver), N.C. Farm Bureau (Silver), School Nutrition Association of North Carolina (Silver), Ingles (Bronze), N.C. Egg Association (Bronze) and the N.C. Farm to School Cooperative (Supporter),

More details about the N.C. Jr. Chef Competition are available online. Stay tuned for recipes, photos and videos from this year's cook-off. Additional information regarding School Nutrition Programs in North Carolina can be found on the School Nutrition Services website. USDA and NCDPI are equal opportunity providers and employers.

In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA.

Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g. Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.) should contact the agency (state or local) where they applied for benefits. Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339. Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English.

To file a program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form (AD-3027) available online and at any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by:

* mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, D.C. 20250-9410;

* fax: (202) 690-7442; or * email.

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