These days televised cooking competitions are all the rage and have huge audiences. On June 11th, a bit of that excitement and passion came to Warkworth. The students of Mrs. Anderson’s grade 8 class put into practice the skills and food lessons they had learned over the course of the school year in the weekly Abundance Project cooking class.
Four teams of approximately 8 students each were given one hour to prepare from scratch one main course dish and then present their work to our panel of local judges; Chef Tina Moorey from On The Side catering, business owner Elizabeth Aitkenhead from Our Lucky Stars café, and fitness coach and Abundance cooking volunteer Alaria Richie. Judges then evaluated each dish based on a number of criteria formulated by the students themselves.

It was clear from the time that the competition was presented to the students that they were excited and very motivated by the challenge. The class was given about 10 days to research their recipe, assign tasks within the team and to develop the rating criteria. Students were encouraged to select healthy recipes that incorporated ingredients from all food groups. We were very encouraged to note that the final ingredient list for the pantry had about twice as many vegetables as any other food good.

Given the size of the teams, and the space restrictions in the church kitchen, only two team members were allowed in the kitchen or the ‘pantry area’ at one time. There was plenty of scurrying to and fro by team members – even a mad dash up Main St. to pick a bit of mint from the Community herb garden. All the while judges circulated amongst the teams, observing how they worked and offering the occasional bit of professional advice.

Once the hour prep time was up, two members of each team presented their dish to the judges, explaining why they had chosen that recipe and commenting on any challenges their team had faced while preparing it. The room fell silent and 30 students watched with great anticipation as the judges tasted each dish, completed their evaluations, consulted amongst themselves and made comments to each team.

Although the judges selected a runner up and first place team, in the end every team was a winner and all the students clearly gave their best and prepared some fantastic meals. We look forward to working again with Mrs. Anderson’s students next year and to another Master Chef challenge.

For another take on this event please visit this link: