Healthy holidays never tasted or smelled so good thanks to the creative ideas presented by AL Brown and Northwest Cabarrus high schools during the second round of the 5th Annual Cabarrus Chef Challenge, presented by Cabarrus Health Alliance.
The team to advance to the finale on Wednesday, December 13 is AL Brown. They will face the first round winner Cox Mill High School at 6 pm at restaurant Forty Six in downtown Kannapolis.
AL Brown prepared a meal that started with a meatless barbeque appetizer made with grilled Portobello mushrooms tossed in barbeque sauce served with coleslaw tossed in yogurt and feta cheese and garnished with strawberries in balsamic sauce. The entree was chicken breast stuffed with roasted acorn squash, balsamic reduction and spinach. Dessert was a baked apple with honey and maple syrup topped with a wheat thin crumble and vanilla yogurt.
Although some of the AL Brown team are in the school’s culinary program, several of the team members had “never stepped foot in a kitchen before,” said team leader Sammy Jijon-Bacilio, a senior at AL Brown, “I am so glad they came out.”’
Northwest presented a salsa appetizer with a garden stir fry with chicken and a fruit salad with honey sauce.
Forty Six Executive Chef John Blumreich and Concord Police Chief Gary Gacek, both judges, praised all of the students for their organization and teamwork. Judge Chef Megan Lambert, an instructor at Johnson and Wales University in Charlotte, complimented the teams on the successful consideration of nutrition and creative use of fruits and vegetables.
Gacek added, “Regardless if someone chooses to be a chef, this cook off opens up their eyes to basic life skills like teamwork and dealing with the stress and short time constraints. When you have to prepare a healthy meal in 60 minutes, you have to work effectively as a team.”
“This is a great opportunity for young, aspiring culinarians to be given the chance to work in a real life restaurant,” said Chef Mark Allison, director of culinary nutrition for Dole Nutrition Institute at the NC Research Campus. “There is nothing better than competitions to hone skills and for students to see what is possible in a culinary career.”
Judges were also:
· Daniel Squirewell, Cabarrus Health Alliance, Environmental Health Specialist
· Robert Walter, CEC, CCA, AAC, culinary specialist with Gordon Foods
Brad Riley, Cabarrus County Sheriff, served as a guest coach for AL Brown and Greg Stewart, Cabarrus Health Alliance Public Health Educator, guided Northwest Cabarrus students.
Sponsors of the event included the NC Research Campus, Earth Fare and Gordon Foods.