Although they knew competition would be tough, Blevins Middle School seventh-graders Maggie Haynes and Olivia Mayer felt their Guacamole and Grilled Shrimp Stuffed Mushrooms recipe would prove to be a tasty winner in Poudre School District’s healthy appetizer cooking contest.
“We changed some stuff in the recipe after our families tried it. I think we have a chance,” said Maggie, before they began cooking.
Ingredients, aprons and chef hats were waiting for the nine students who were selected to prepare their appetizers for PSD’s Culinary Competition for middle and high school students. The PSD Child Nutrition Department routinely holds recipe contests for students to promote healthy cooking and eating.
“We do this to promote wellness. A lot of students like to cook and we want to give students an opportunity to show off their skills and talents,” said Craig Schneider, PSD Child Nutrition director.
In the Fort Collins High School kitchen, the young chefs focused on creating their culinary masterpieces. After an hour, time was called as the chefs put the final touches on their dishes.
The chefs proudly presented their dishes as judges made the rounds to taste samples and talk with them. One appetizer featuring tiny penguins made from cream cheese and olives was almost too cute to eat! Dishes were judged on overall presentation, taste, nutrition and ease of preparation.
While the decision was difficult for the judges, Maggie and Olivia’s recipe for Guacamole and Grilled Shrimp Stuffed Mushrooms took top honors. Webber Middle School eighth-grader Lena Long-Shore also helped create the recipe but was not able to attend the competition.
Cole Tzoumas, a sixth-grader at Webber Middle School, won second place with his original Santa Barbara Guacamole recipe that he often makes at home. “I love guacamole. I like cooking and I do it for my family a lot,” said Cole.
Third place went to PHS senior Lindsey Shockley for her Spinach and Goat Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms. Olive Cream Cheese Penguins from PHS junior Ellen DeRosby and senior Christopher Laughrun and Firecracker Lettuce Wraps from Preston Middle School eighth-grader Camille Gilkinson were also part of the cook-off.
Poudre High School sophomore Makenna Fortenberry made Garlic Chicken Bruschetta. “It’s a simple bruschetta recipe. I just put my own twist on it,” she said.
Judges included Superintendent Dr. Nancy Wright, Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Schools Dr. Kevin Hahn, Board of Education Director Cathy Kipp, Wellness Coordinator Ashley Schwader, Transportation Director Matt Bryant and Tessa Daggett, administrative assistant to the superintendent.
“Each contestant produced an item that was delicious, creative, and healthy,” said Daggett. “It was very difficult to choose a winner. They are all winners in my book!”