BronxWorks, a non-profit group that focuses on helping people improve their economic and social well-being, recently completed its Teen Battle Chef program that helped 15 young people learn the basics of healthy cooking and eating.
The eight-week program, which culminated in a grand finale cooking contest ‘battle’ on Tuesday, May 7 at the Betances Community Center in Mott Haven, was created by Familycook Productions with the a general goal of getting young people to cook and eat more nutritious foods, said Kim Wong, BronxWorks program director for community health programming.
The finale saw two teams, Team Orange and Team Purple, in a competition where the young ‘chefs’ in the program created two tasty dishes: a Tex-Mex chili and a Thai-inspired broccoli and chicken with peanut sauce and coconut rice, said Wong.
The judges for the cooking challenge finale, which offered a prize of movie tickets, were unable to pick a winner and declared the contest a tie, said Wong.
Wong said that in much of the borough there is often a lack of knowledge about and access to healthy foods, and children are especially prone to eating ‘junk food’ because it is usually readily available.
“It is important to teach kids about healthy eating and we are doing it a fun and engaging way,” said Wong.
They also learn about teamwork, giving presentations and organizational skills.
The participating youth learned to cook spring roles, jambalaya, seafood pasta with mussels, fish chowder, breakfast sandwiches, vegetable stir fry and quesadillas.
“They started simple and then got more complicated (with recipes)”, said Wong.
The judges for the finale were Councilwoman Diana Ayala; Eileen Torres, BronxWorks executive director and Daralyn Calderón, NYC Department of Youth and Community Development community coordinator.