Four Thurgood Marshall Elementary students recently received a chance to prepare and present their version of the ultimate healthy snack. This opportunity was offered as part of the Sodexo First Annual Future Chef’s Culinary Competition.
“The whole concept of this is to help educate the kids in healthy eating habits,” said Tyria Joyner, general manager for Sodexo in Asbury Park Schools.
Sodexo, a partner in First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move initiative to end childhood obesity, hosted the fun and educational event as part of its ongoing commitment to ensure a brighter future in the areas of health and wellness, environmental stewardship and community development for Asbury Park youth.
Twenty-one elementary school students from the district’s three elementary schools – Barack Obama, Bradley and Thurgood Marshall -- submitted healthy, after-school snack recipes in their own handwriting. The top four were selected to participate in the districtwide finale. As it turned out, all of the finalists hailed from Thurgood. They were: Daniel Delgado, Amira Gates, Andrew Martinez and Briallan Mendoza.
The finalists were asked to prepare and present their creations after which they were assessed on originality, taste, ease of presentation, kid-friendliness and use of healthy ingredients. The judges -- Barbara Lesinski, Board Member; Geof Hasting, Business Administrator; Ivy Brown, Assistant Business Administrator; Mark Gerbino, Thurgood Marshall Principal; and Delmalis Roman, Title 1 Associate – had a monumental task.
“Having that type of event is fantastic because it teaches students life skills and puts them in a position where they have to perform,” Gerbino said. “It also helps them learn the importance of doing things the right way and making good decisions.”
The student creations varied. For example, Daniel created an original peanut butter, granola and apple sandwich with chocolate chips and Amira mixed up a fruity tootiey parfait, while Briallan opted for a traditional seasonal fruit salad and Andrew served up broccoli and cheese.
Although judges, family and friends were impressed with all of the dishes; there could only be one winner. That was Amira Gates.
“When I first went inside I felt nervous, but then I heard everything was going to be fine,” said the fifth-grader. “I was happy how the food came out perfect -- the granola was crunchy, the fruit and yogurt were nice and fresh and the spearmint I think got me the jackpot.”
Amira added that she decided to create her signature parfait because she and her grandmother always made big breakfasts and that was usually a part of them. She decided to add spearmint to top off her dish because she loves that flavor gum and a while ago her grandmother introduced her to the leaf.
“When I tried it, I was amazed how everything was so delicious,” she said.
The Asbury Park School District joined approximately 230 others in 29 states across the country that held Future Chefs events throughout February and March. The winning student from each participating district will be considered for the regional finals. Selected regional finalists will vie to become one of five national winners competing for the public’s vote on a Future Chefs YouTube channel special.