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Woodland elementary students compete in Future Chefs of America

The Columbian
Published: April 22, 2023, 5:07am

WOODLAND — Woodland elementary school students competed in the annual Future Chefs of America event by cooking their own recipes in Woodland High School’s commercial-grade kitchen for judging by a panel of guest judges as well as sharing samples with all attendees on March 29.

Each year, interested students submit recipes based on a different theme, with this year featuring healthy breakfast side dishes.

Each student, paired with a food services employee, prepared enough of their recipe for parents and community members who attended to sample the recipe, as well as a special presentation plate. Chef Dave Williams, Sodexo’s Regional Chef, helped each student select from a variety of small vegetables and herbs to highlight the colors and presentation of their dishes.

Judges selected the Blackberry, Bacon & Blue Cheese Salad as the winner this year, prepared by Ruxson Guajardo, a fourth-grader. Guajardo learned how to cook by helping make meals at home, “My grandma and mom really like to cook, and I enjoy cooking with them,” he said.

In addition to honing their cooking skills preparing their recipes in a commercial-grade kitchen, students also learned proper food handling and hygiene skills as well as utensil handling including how to properly handle knives and scissors. When working with raw meats and food that can contaminate their work area, students learned how to fully clean their working area between steps as well as the importance of washing their hands and changing their gloves regularly.

Every student who participated received a cookbook and was allowed to keep their official cook uniform including a Sodexo-branded hat and smock.