For the fourth year in a row, Sodexo Inc., food service providers for the Cranston Public Schools, hosted the Future Chefs competition for elementary students in grades three through five on March …
For the fourth year in a row, Sodexo Inc., food service providers for the Cranston Public Schools, hosted the Future Chefs competition for elementary students in grades three through five on March 26.
This year's competition asked students to submit their favorite healthy snack recipes in writing for consideration. In past years, the competition has asked for healthy sandwiches, healthy salads and healthy breakfasts.
According to general manager Lynne Conca, there were 61 student entries at the start of the competition in February. At that point, the entries were narrowed down to 15 finalists who were to appear at Peters Elementary School at 3 p.m. on March 26. There were 13 of those students present at the competition.
The kitchen at the school was turned over to the students, and each was given a Sodexo adult mentor chef to work with. All of the ingredients for their recipes were provided for them, along with chef's hats, aprons and T-shirts, and for the next couple of hours, the sounds of chopping, mixing, blending and stirring could be heard throughout the room as the chefs worked hard to recreate their recipes. Each student had to provide 50 sample portions, display presentations for their display space and special portions for each of the three judges, who had to taste and score the snacks based on many categories including ease of preparation and creativity. The judges for the 2015 competition were School Committee Chairwoman Janice Ruggieri, Peters Elementary Principal Patricia Caporelli and Cranston Public Schools CFO Joseph Balducci.
Several of the students in this year's competition were familiar with the event, having competed in past years. Larissa Derevyanko was in it for the third year in a row, while Gabriella Cunha and Alexandra Cowart had each been through the competition twice before, with Gabrielle having won first place in the 2014 competition with her "Terrific Tuna Taco" and Alexandra having won second place in 2013 with her "Sunshine Salad." Chantel Celikbas was not present that evening, but was a finalist in both 2014 and 2015.
After a rigorous judging process, the top three winning recipes were determined, with Nicholas Piscione, a fifth-grader from Garden City School, coming in first place with his "Brainy Breakfast Banana." Tonisha Thompson, a fourth-grader from Dutemple School, came in second place with her "Greek Flowers," and Patrick McDonough, a third-grader from Stone Hill School, came in third place with his "Homemade Apple Cinnamon Raisin Granola." Each student participant was given a certificate and a drawstring backpack goodie bag. The top three winners received a bicycle and helmet (first place), a Razor scooter and helmet (second place) and a badminton/volleyball game set (third place).
Regional Vice President Mike Grey was on hand with the Sodexo staff and their managers Kathy Rocco, Lynne Conca and Ashley Hall to congratulate the winners. Also present through the evening were elementary principals Jay DeCristofaro, Jim Zanfini and Patricia Caporelli, as they paid visits to the contestants from their schools. Superintendent Dr. Judith Lundsten also stopped by during the three-hour event to wish the contestants well.