After multiple summers in France with his parents, artfully twirling the batter spreader for his crepe de frutas is second nature to Leo Dupuy, 11, of . The only difference? This one’s made with whole grains.
Dupuy and eight other students are not only competing in the Future Chefs contest to have the tastiest, most creative dish, it has to be healthy too. Each year, Sodexo, an international food and management services company that the districts contracts with, teaches children how to cook as well as expose them to healthier recipes.
“It’s a huge problem that we need to address with students as well as their parents,” said Child Nutrition Services Director Anna Lague of the lack of nutrition education. “Many students grow up eating convenience food.”
She said some parents are unable to read the food labels and don’t know what exactly is in the products they’re buying from the supermarket. Additionally, fresh produce and vegetables often don’t make it on parents’ grocery lists because of high costs.
But Michelle Bejarano, 10, of knows the importance of incorporating more fruit into her daily intake.
Her “breakfast banana split” nixed the traditional ice cream and rainbow sprinkles that are trademarks of the dessert. Instead, she used yogurt as the based and sprinkled granola as the festive topping.
“I found the recipe, but wanted to make it healthier,” Bejarano said. “So I got rid of all those unhealthy ingredients!”
Lague selected the nine recipes from students’ submissions from all over the district. She then modified the recipes further to show students that they could replace ingredients like cream with low-fat milk as a healthier alternative.
Students get extra points in the judging round for creating a more nutritious dish.
Victor Arroyo, 9, from Selby Lane was acutely aware of this and replaced the cheese with vegetables in his perfectly flipped omelet.
The Future Chefs contest goes beyond education and teaches the students practical life skills. Aside from the obvious experience of cooking, students practice their math skills with recipes that call for measurement modification.
They’ve also learned to be creative with their concoctions.
Eduardo Frausto, 10, of Roosevelt Elementary School had fun with his dish by adding a happy face to his whole-grain pancakes. He also had the blender whirring to complement his meal with a smoothie.
“This is the best part of being a school board member,” said judge Dennis McBride. “You get to see the kids enjoying themselves and learning.”
The winner? It was a tie between Emeline Robbins of for her Portable Breakfast Parfaits and Michelle Bejarano of Roosevelt School for her Breakfast Banana Split.
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