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Students, Don Your Aprons! Future Chefs Event Nears in Fitchburg Schools

January 5, 2019
Longsjo Middle School's Jaeda Lashua was the "Future Chef" winner last year after wowing the judges with her honey chicken stir-fry dish. SUBMITTED PHOTO Sentinel and Enterprise staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.

By Chad Garner

Special to the Sentinel & Enterprise

FITCHBURG -- Calling all young chefs in the Fitchburg Public Schools.

The Future Chefs culinary competition -- a nationwide recipe contest run by Sodexo -- is back for students in grades three through five at the Memorial, Longsjo, Crocker, McKay, Reingold and South Street schools.

“This is our ninth year holding our Future Chef competition and it has become one of our signature events each year,” said David Semenza, the Nutrition Services Director for Sodexo at the Fitchburg Public Schools and the manager of the Future Chefs contest in Fitchburg.

This year’s theme is “Healthy Mexican Food.”

“Mexican-inspired cuisine is very popular today,” Semenza said, “and we are very excited to see some of the creative examples that the students come up with.“Students in FPS that want to participate must fill out a recipe form and return it to their cafeteria manager by Jan. 11.

The tips provided to the students to be a finalist this year include: originality, kid friendly, easy to prepare, healthy attributes, plate presentation and taste.

A distinguished panel of administrators will evaluate the recipe submissions and narrow the number to six finalists.

The goal is to help educate kids in healthy eating habits.

“As part of the Fitchburg Public Schools community, Nutrition Services plays a vital role in the nutrition education of the students of Fitchburg,” Semenza said. “Learning the importance of eating healthy and making good, nutritionally-sound food choices is an important and sometimes overlooked component of a child’s development. This competition focuses on this by having students develop healthy, kid-friendly recipes in the hope their fellow students will take them home and prepare them as well.”

The finalists will be invited to the official culinary competition cook-off at Fitchburg High School on March 14.

“The atmosphere the night of the event is electric,” Semenza said. “The students competing get the chance to work in a professional kitchen at Fitchburg High School. Parents are allowed to observe the cooking from just outside the kitchen. This gives the feel of a television cooking reality show that the contestants love. Once the cooking is done, the contestants are in the spotlight, as family and friends in attendance are given the opportunity to sample each item and ask them questions about the recipe and cooking process.”

Semenza also said the staff really enjoys the opportunity to work one on one with each contestant.

All finalists receive a chef coat, apron and hat.

The winning recipe from the event will be entered to win a national competition in late March.

Last year’s local Future Chef winner was Longsjo Middle School’s Jaeda Lashua.

Garner is the communications coordinator for the Fitchburg Public Schools.

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