Four teams of high school Career and Technical Education students enrolled in Culinary Arts and Hospitality, Food and Nutrition, or Food Science and Technology courses will vie for the state title in the 2021 North Carolina Jr. Chef Competition, held virtually this year. Based on applications and recipes
submitted, Apex High (Wake County Public Schools), Clyde A. Erwin High (Buncombe County Schools), East Chapel Hill High (Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools) and Swain County High were selected as finalist teams.
The students were challenged to work with their Family and Consumer Sciences teachers and School Nutrition directors 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 also meets student taste preferences.
This is the fourth year of the competition, but it is the first time teams will compete in a virtual format. Even in the midst of the pandemic and varied learning models across the state, the competition committee sought to continue to offer this enriching educational and leadership opportunity for students. Teams can work on their recipes whether their school is currently in in-person, virtual or hybrid learning formats. Teams are required to follow COVID-19 safety guidelines from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services and their local health departments as well as guidance from the N.C. Department of Public Instruction and their local schools or districts.
For the next phase of the competition, which has a deadline of March 19, teams will submit a video of their student chefs preparing and plating their school lunch entrée recipe. For the video, teams can be together, if COVID-19 safety along with district and school guidelines allow, or in separate locations. Along with the video, teams will re-submit their applications, recipes and recipe photos, incorporating feedback from the recipe review panel. In addition, they will turn in a time-management plan for how they prepare their dish within the 90-minute time limit. Teams will present their dishes during virtual, live interviews with a panel of judges in early April. Judges can ask questions and share feedback with the teams during the interviews. Judges will evaluate teams for their ability to work together to demonstrate valuable skills in recipe development, food preparation, marketing, public presentation, organization, and local food systems.
All N.C. Jr. Chef finalist teams will be recognized during a virtual ceremony April 16 as part of the N.C. Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (NCFCCLA) State Leadership Conference. Team members will receive N.C. Jr. Chef coats, hats and aprons along with certificates and medals based on team scores. First, second and third place teams will receive plaques to display in their school, and the first-place team will have the honor of hosting the competition trophy until the next cook-off. Sullivan University in Kentucky will offer scholarships to the student members of the top three teams.
The Junior Chef Competition was created to inspire the next generation of culinary professionals, stimulate interest in locally produced agriculture, increase participation in School Nutrition Programs, provide nutrition education, and encourage healthy eating habits. A family cookbook of recipes from the first three years of the competition is in development. In addition, recipes for larger quantities, inspired by the Jr. Chef team creations, will be made available for School Nutrition Programs across the state.
The N.C. Jr. Chef Competition was planned by the School Nutrition and District Operations Division and Career and Technical Education Division at the Department of Public Instruction in partnership with the N.C. Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services’ Farm to School Program, North Carolina Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (NC FCCLA) and the Farm to School Coalition of North Carolina.
USDA and NCDPI are equal opportunity providers and employers. Additional information about the North Carolina Jr. Chef Competition is available online. More information regarding School Nutrition Programs in North Carolina can be found on the School Nutrition Services website.
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This institution is an equal opportunity provider.