Cabarrus Health Alliance

Annual Cabarrus Student Chef Challenge Heats Up Monday

December 08, 2017

Four Cabarrus County high schools go head-to-head next week in a Chopped-style competition to see who can make the healthiest and tastiest holiday meal. The prize includes donations to their schools’ culinary programs.


Students from four Cabarrus County high schools are competing December 11, 12 and 13 in the 5th Cabarrus Chef Challenge, presented by Cabarrus Health Alliance (CHA). Teams of 10 students each will represent Cox Mill, Hickory Ridge, Northwest Cabarrus and AL Brown high schools.

Cox Mill and Hickory Ridge High Schools kick off the Chopped-style competition on Monday, December 11 at 6 pm at restaurant Forty Six, in downtown Kannapolis at 101 West Avenue. Tuesday, December 12, Northwest Cabarrus High School takes on AL Brown. The students will be charged with creating healthy, holiday meals in an hour.

The two winning teams will go head-to-head Wednesday, December 13 in the finale to make a dish that is “Fresh for the New Year.”


The Prize

The winning team receives a special coin from the Concord Police Department and a prize bag from CHA. This year, the NC Research Campus will make a contribution to the schools to support their culinary programs. The winning team will receive $500. The second place team $250, and the other two teams $100 each.

“We are very appreciative of taking part in an event that realizes our belief that learning how to cook and prepare healthy foods leads to a lifetime of healthier choices,” said Mark Spitzer, vice president of operations for Castle & Cooke North Carolina, the campus development lead for the NCRC. “We hope the students and their families enjoy the competition and become inspired to keep cooking healthy foods.”


The Competition

The food and pantry items teams are provided by CHA and sponsors, Earth Fare in Concord, NC and Gordon Foods in Kannapolis, NC. Using only the available equipment and resources, each team will have an hour to plan and prepare their meals before plating and presenting it to the judges.

One student from each team will make the presentation. They must include a name, ingredients, an explanation of why they chose to make that specific meal as well as why it is considered healthy or nutritious. The judges score the recipes on a scale of one to five, five being the highest, in taste, presentation, teamwork, and directions followed.

This year’s judges are:

  • John Blumreich, Forty Six Executive Chef
  • Megan Lambert, Senior Instructor Johnson & Wales University Charlotte, Pastry Chef and Nutritionist
  • Gary J. Gacek, Chief, Concord Police Department
  • Daniel Squirewell, Cabarrus Health Alliance, Environmental Health Specialist

Brad Riley, Cabarrus County Sheriff, will be a guest coach.



The event was created by two school nurses who had a vision to get their students involved in a hands-on activity that would improve decision-making and problem-solving skills while practicing team building.  They involved local law enforcement to help create stronger community bonds.


About the NC Research Campus

The North Carolina Research Campus, located in Kannapolis, NC, near Charlotte, is a scientific community that collaboratively works to empower human health through nutrition. Eight universities, the David H. Murdock Research Institute, global companies and entrepreneurs focus research and development on safer, more nutritious crops, healthier foods and precision nutrition.


About Cabarrus Health Alliance

Cabarrus Health Alliance is the public health authority of Cabarrus County.  Cabarrus Health Alliance is an autonomous organization and provider of services and programs designed to meet the needs of public health.  Cabarrus Health Alliance is a leader in public health and nationally recognized for its innovation.




Please note:

The entire event will be open to the media. If pre-event interviews are desired, CHA and the NCRC will help facilitate. Confirmation of a signed waiver by the students will need to be verified.

Media Contact:

Meghan Charpentier, Cabarrus Health Alliance, or 704-920-1324

Jennifer Woodford, NC Research Campus, or 704-200-5070

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