Last Friday, the Fort Payne High School Culinary team presented their competition dish to the faculty, staff and students.

The team is set to compete in the upcoming Alabama Junior Chef Competition on Jan. 31 in Montgomery.

“A team from Fort Payne has never competed in the Junior Chef Competition before,” said Fort Payne High School Culinary Arts Instructor and team representative, Cheri Williams.

She said the team members were chosen in October and began their recipe research and taste tests at that time.

“They have worked really hard,” Williams said.

The team worked alongside Fort Payne High School CMP Cafeteria Manager and team coach Tina Broyles and her staff to prepare and serve the competition entrée.

Broyles said lunchroom staff from FPHS, Williams Avenue Elementary and Wills Valley Elementary School each received a plate to sample.

“This is what we created for competition and there will be a survey sent to each student Chromebook that team member Avery Payton created to receive feedback,” she said.

The four-member team consists of Avery Payton (senior), Lauren Gonzalez (sophomore), Liliana Francisco (sophomore) and Jovany Rocha (sophomore).

Williams said each member has a job, “Jovany is the meat person, Lauren is the Tahini dressing person, Avery is the cucumber and slaw person and Liliana is the floater she knows all their jobs.”

The team said they are excited about their upcoming competition and hope to do well.

According to the Alabama Child Nutrition School Programs staff, their goal is to inspire students to be involved in the creation of healthier eating habits that will improve their health now and in the future.

In addition, they aim to provide nutrition education, stimulating interest in both locally produced agriculture and Child Nutrition Programs that would ultimately increase the consumption of healthier products offered in school meals.

Williams said Broyles and Fort Payne City Child Nutrition Director, Laran Crowe-Adkins, have been instrumental in the teams’ preparation.

“I have only been a sounding board for the team and a taste tester. Tina [Broyles] and the team have put in the work,” she said.

Williams said there are four other teams from across the state participating in the competition apart from Fort Payne’s team.

Each district is limited to only one team per region and must meet a set of requirements including the following regarding their entrée:

• Each entrée must meet the National School Lunch Program meal pattern and nutrition standards

• must be accompanied with nutrient analysis

• incorporate at least 2 local ingredients applicable to our state

• incorporate at least 1 USDA Food Commodity

• be replicable by school nutrition professionals

The team will be judged on taste, appearance, creativity, best and most use of local ingredients, best and most used USDA Commodity foods, school nutrition program appropriateness, food safety and execution.

Broyles said the first-place team will move forward to the Southeast Region Junior Chef Competition at Sullivan University in Louisville, Kentucky.

Winners of the state completion who travel to Sullivan University will compete for the chance to win the following scholarships provided by the university:

• 1st Place - $16,000 to each student on the team

• 2nd Place - $10,000 to each student on the team

• 3rd Place - $6,000 to each student on the team

The annual Alabama Junior Chef Competition is designed to encourage students to be engaged while providing them with an opportunity to demonstrate their culinary skills.

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