The 2016 Rebel Chef Competition at the Frederick H. Tuttle Middle School (FHTMS) November 19 featured 11 teams, comprising of 54 students, who squared off to cook the best vegetarian dish using local foods. After weeks of practice and coaching by parents, teachers, and community members who volunteered their time, the results of the students’ teamwork and creativity were impressively inventive and delicious dishes ranging from paninis and latkes to pot pies and frittatas.
Although all the students who participated cooked impressive dishes, only two teams could be selected to represent FHTMS at the Vermont Junior Iron Chef Competition in March. The winning teams were The Rising Flames and Straight Outta Tuttle.
The Rising Flames team members are Christina Conklin, Hiba Ali, Liana Wijetunga, Kimberly Hurer, and Deepika Muthuswamy. They are coached by Jolyn Wigetunga and Gayle Conklin and their winning dish was a delectable butternut squash and kale linguini.
Straight Outta Tuttle team members are Bo Chen, Levi Frechette, Finn Zuccareno, and Michael Thompson. Coached by Christine Thompson and Richard Lange, this winning team served up a dish they titled, Tantalizing Tempura on a Bed of Fantastic Fried Rice.
The team, The Iridescent Cupcakes, placed third in the event with their delicate mini-spinach pies, and will be an alternate for the March competition. Team members Breanna Wright, Hannah Jenkins, and Kayla Julow were coached by Corinn and Andrew Julow.
For this competition, students were responsible for assembling a team, finding coaches, arranging practice time and locations, and supplying their own ingredients and equipment. Karyl Kent, production supervisor for the South Burlington School District (SBSD) Nutritional Services Department, noted, “The way these students accepted the challenge and responsibilities required of them was remarkable. Any of these teams could compete at the state level successfully and it was difficult to choose only two.”
The difficult, but tasty, task of judging fell to a panel of expert judges. They were FHTMS Principal Karsten Schlenter, chef and caterer Alganesh Michael, Executive Chef James McCarthy of Shelburne Farms, food blogger for Kids Vermont Astrid LaGue, South Burlington High School chef Ken Baur, and SBSD farm-to-school educator Jennifer Sutton.
To see the winning Rebel Chef teams in action, and to cheer them on, mark your calendar for the Vermont Junior Iron Chef Competition March 18. To sample the student chef’s creations, attend the first International Dinner at FHTMS, December 7, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.