A first-time competing school served up fried gold at this year’s ‘Chopped’-inspired cooking contest.
P.S. 83’s aspiring chefs earned top prize at the Middle School Chopped Competition on Friday, April 6 at P.S. 122.
Two-time Chopped champion chef Marc Anthony Bynum and P.J. Clare’s executive chef Timothy Walker joined Sports and Arts in Schools Foundation as guest judges for this year’s three-round culinary competition.
The test of cooking skills takes inspiration and its namesake from the wildly popular Food Network reality-based cooking television game show series Chopped in which four chefs compete in a three-round contest and attempt to incorporate unusual combinations of ingredients into dishes to be evaluated by a panel of three judges.
For each round, plates were reviewed based upon usage of all secret basket ingredients, taste and creativity.
The secret ingredients included tofu, zucchini, shiitake mushrooms and black beans.
Sixty students from 11 schools schools competed in the first and second rounds.
Scores for both rounds were cumulative and only the top five schools had the opportunity to advance to the third round.
During the final round, both Bynum and Walker engaged in a head-to-head friendly cooking competition using the same mystery ingredients as the final five schools.
According to Laura Silva, P.S. 83 Afterschool Program director, the school’s culinary masters-in-training created three savory dishes.
The students’ first tasty dish was a summer salad with a side of freshly made guacamole.
For their second dish, the students created a delectable Grand Jam Parfait, a freshly made dessert consisting of crushed pretzels and graham crackers, yogurt, beets, figs and raspberries topped off with sprinkled cheese.
Their third and final culinary creation was a freshly made veggie burger with a kale salad on the side.
Bynum and Walker observed the students’ works to ensure everyone adhered to the rules.
“It was a little stressful coming up with an idea and placing it onto a plate for judges to review, but it was still a great experience,” said Christopher Santiago, P.S. 83 student.
Following the competition, every participant took home a medal and their very own chef hat in recognition of their hard work and dedication to the culinary arts.
“It was a great opportunity for the kids to showcase what they have been learning in our afterschool cooking class,” noted Silva.
For the last three years, P.S. 83 has sponsored a biweekly afterschool cooking class educating students on the secret art of food preparation.
Every Wednesday and Friday, students perfect their cooking with guidance from their teacher Christine Loretta.
The chefs of the future learn how to create such appetizing meals as veggie burgers, hash browns, casseroles, Arizona taco soup and Thai chicken and lettuce wraps.
“It was fun and it tested our cooking skills by making us work together to make our dishes better,” expressed Anatoli Velikov, P.S. 83 student.