After 10 minutes of planning and an hour of chopping, sautéing, mixing and boiling, the team to move forward in the 5th Annual Cabarrus Chef Challenge is Cox Mill High School.
The Cox Mill team presented a healthy holiday meal of eight dishes that included a green salad with homemade balsamic vinaigrette, a Santa-designed fruit salad, pan-seared chicken, roasted vegetables, spaghetti with sausage and Portobello mushrooms and fruit-inspired desserts. The team chose the meals because they represented each of their family’s traditions.
Hickory Ridge presented a dish of garlic, onion, red pepper and green beans along with sausage, chicken and bell pepper spaghetti and a fruit salad of apples, oranges, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries and feta cheese.
The Hickory Ridge students shared that the reason they made those dishes is because “the world is filled with different races and different backgrounds and what brings more people together (than) food and family.”
The judges and event organizer Meghan Charpentier with Cabarrus Health Alliance emphasized that no team lost just one is moving forward. The judges praised the students for their team work and creative use of so many of the food items donated by Earth Fare Concord and Gordon Foods in Kannapolis. Besides the pantry items, they had a chef available in the kitchen at Forty Six to help with the use of the commercial equipment.
The panel of judges included
- Chef Mark Allison, Director of Culinary Nutrition Dole Food Company
- 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
- Robert Walter, CEC, CCA, AAC, culinary specialist with Gordon Foods
Brad Riley, Cabarrus County Sheriff, served as a guest coach for Cox Mill and Greg Stewart, Cabarrus H ealth Alliance Public Health Educator, guided Hickory Ridge students.
Commenting on the value of the program, Gordon Foods’ Walter, a 37-year food service veteran, said, “The comradery, the sharing of knowledge and the judges giving guidance is so valuable. It helps give them a bigger perspective of what this industry is about and gives them an opportunity to practice their skills and maybe helps them choose a career.”
Parent Sheron Grant, whose daughter junior Elysia Grant competed on the Hickory Ridge team, added, “This helps them get a good idea of knowing if this is something they really want to do. They see it on TV but now to participate- you can’t beat that.”
Competition continues tomorrow night at 6 pm at restaurant Forty Six with AL Brown and Northwest Cabarrus High School. The finale is Wednesday, December 13.
All teams receive a Dole Nutrition Handbook. The winning team receives a special coin from the Concord Police Department. 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.
The event is organized by Cabarrus Health Alliance with additional support from the NC Research Campus.
Meghan Charpentier, Cabarrus Health Alliance, Meghan.Charpentier@CabarrusHealth.org or 704-920-1324
Jennifer Woodford, NC Research Campus, Jwoodford@ncresearchcampus.net or 704-200-5070