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NH Teen Cook Off a treat and challenge for everyone involved

April 2, 2018

NASHUA, N.H. (AP) — With whisks flying, butter melting, garlic sauteing and knives chopping, the kitchen at Nashua High School North was a cacophony of sounds and smells during Wednesday afternoon’s New Hampshire Teen Cook Off.

Three teams, Nashua, Hollis Brookline and Souhegan competed to see who could make the best, most nutritious school lunch with a few locally sourced ingredients.

The winning team walked away with new aprons, a set of cooking utensils and a chance to win the state championship at Moultonborough Academy on April 7.

Each meal had to meet the current USDA nutritional guidelines, including fat, calorie and sodium content among others.

Recipes were judged on taste, presentation, use of local ingredients and adherence to nutrition and cost guidelines. State Sen. Bette Lasky, UNH dietetic intern Haley Brimmer and Infant Jesus teacher Edith Couchman were the judges.

“This competition speaks to so many things,” Stacey Purslow of N.H. Farm to School said, including “creativity, competition, learning about nutrition, school food service, teamwork,” and more.

Nashua’s team, led by culinary instructor David Quimby, was composed of Maggie Pare, Shawn Boudreau and Grace Angulas. They prepared zucchini noodles with pesto and tomato concasse, Parmesan crusted chicken and garnished with a Parmesan cracker.

“They are three outstanding students who like competition,” Quimby said. “Lately there’s been a focus more on farm to table in schools, to make food less manufactured, (and have) more cooked food. It’s good to see kids interested in that,” he said. “It won’t be my generation that makes a change, it will be theirs.”

Caleb Gannon and Claire Sedon represented the Hollis Brookline team, who won the competition last year. They are led by family consumer science teacher Candice Hancock. The duo prepared a chicken and broccoli fettuccine alfredo.

Souhegan, led by FaCS teacher Paula Garvey, was made up of freshman students Abby Franklin and Paige Colby, who prepared a mediterranean style turkey burger with oven baked carrot and parsnip chips.

Garvey said she thought the competition shows that people can eat good, healthy food without breaking the budget.

Nashua served the judges first, who were immediately wowed by the “professional” looking presentation of the meal, followed by compliments on the juiciness of the chicken.

Hollis Brookline served second, and Brimmer noted they were at a disadvantage since, due to the wait, their meal was not as hot as the first. However, she also said that the fettuccine had just the right amount of alfredo.

“The sauce is perfect,” she said.

Souhegan was the last to serve, but did not suffer because of it. The judges were impressed with the flavors and appreciated the parsnip and carrot alternative to french fries.

“This is the best burger I’ve had in a long while,” Lasky said.

After calculating the scores, Nashua and Souhegan were at a tie. After a great deal of deliberation, Souhegan was declared the winner because the meal felt more like it would be appropriate as a school lunch, whereas Nashua’s dish, they agreed felt more like something they would order for dinner at a restaurant.

“I honestly didn’t think we would win,” Franklin said. “We’re so much younger and the competition was definitely intimidating.”

Colby said she has always enjoyed cooking and baking, whereas Franklin said she did not know how to cook much until Garvey’s class. Both will advance to the state competition.

No matter the outcome, Couchman said of all the competitors, “these are young artists.”

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Online: https://bit.ly/2q1mT9d

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Information from: The Telegraph, http://www.nashuatelegraph.com

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