Little Foodies invade the kitchen
VAIL CO, Colorado
On Thursday, the cafeteria of June Creek Elementary School in Edwards was a sea of chattering voices and bobbing, chin-high white hats, as the Little Foodies in the Kitchen culinary competition transformed elementary students into aspiring chefs.
Eager faces peered out from under paper chef’s hats to describe their creations to a panel of judges, who gave recipes marks in four categories: healthiness, taste, creativity and visual appeal. The kids were vying for coveted spots in a group that would go on to participate in a cooking class taught by an executive chef.
As part of Vail Restaurant Month, the winners of the second-annual event will be cooking a healthy dinner for their parents and guests tonight at either the Vail Marriott or The Arrabelle at Vail Square.
“Basically, they will be getting their hands dirty,” said Roger King, executive chef at the Vail Marriott. “It’s exciting for them to see the big kitchen (at the restaurant).”
The students were challenged to create healthy, palatable menu items from appetizers and entrees to side dishes and desserts.
Fifth-grader Jordan Solis combined bison, jalapenos, onions and parmesan with pinto beans and stuffed the mixture into colorful bell peppers. He said he chose to make this dish because he thought it would be spicy and taste good.
“I love bison,” Jordan said. “It’s good and healthy. And the jalapenos are spicy and good to eat. … The pinto beans support the bison.”
Karen Gutierrez was inspired by her sister, who participated in the first Little Foodies event last year. For the competition, Karen created shrimp cocktail with lemon, avocado, cilantro and cucumber. She said it’s one of her favorite foods.
“I really like cooking,” Karen said. “(Little Foodies is) an opportunity to cook with my mom.”
Judges listened attentively as participants pointed out the merits and methods of their dishes, from Josh Kurtz’ zucchini bread, made with a zucchini from his garden that was “as big as my head,” to the chopping method Dylan Stueber used to create his entry.
“It’s a good snack for right after or before sports,” Dylan said, describing his confetti beans with jalapenos, a salsa-like dish served with chips. “For the jalapeno peppers, I didn’t want them to be too big or spicy, so I cut them really small.”
Judges were impressed by the students’ knowledge of their recipes and use of healthy ingredients.
“I don’t know how many got help from their parents, but it was really good,” King said.
The students’ recipes will later be combined into a cookbook.