The Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District (PYLUSD) Nutrition Services Department recently teamed up with the County After School Activities (CASA) programs at Rio Vista and Ruby Drive elementary schools to discuss healthy eating, recipe development, and cafeteria menu items. CASA is designed to provide a safe space for students after school, and offers academic enrichment, homework centers, and tutoring, as well as a range of recreational opportunities.
While visiting the CASA programs, District chef, Orlando Luevano, proposed a challenge to the young students – create an appealing lunch entrée that would be featured on the elementary school menu. He educated the participants about cafeteria entrées and assigned them a big task; the entrée had to contain broccoli!
In February, PYLUSD Nutrition Services held preliminary competitions at both Rio Vista in Anaheim and Ruby Drive in Placentia. Students worked with staff to create their dishes, and ultimately presented their original recipes to a panel of judges. Just like a professional cooking show, students were scored on originality, flavor, preparation, and presentation.
The top three students from each school advanced to the final round. This included Rio Vista student chefs Brian Rios-Juarez and Miranda Vega (tied for 1st place), Delfina Alvarez (3rd place), Izabel Dominguez (runner-up), and Vanessa Cortez (runner-up). Ruby Drive student chefs included Miranda Rios (1st place), Sammy Ruiz (2nd place), Valeria Madrigal (3rd place), Eduardo Maya (runner-up), and Jane Delgado (runner-up).
“Students did an excellent job, which made the judging very difficult,” shared Director of Nutrition Services, Suzanne Morales.
The culminating event was the final “Championship Cook Off” at Yorba Linda High School on Tuesday, March 26. The competition took place in the school’s culinary classroom, where the six student chefs had access to state-of-the-art cooking equipment. Under the direction of Chef Jenni Messick, YLHS culinary pathway students also served as “sous chefs” to the young competitors.
After hours of thoughtful food preparation and concentrated cooking, the students once again presented their culinary creations to a panel of judges including Morales, Messick, and Monica Garcia, a chef from Los Angeles Unified School District. This time, the young chefs were scored according to creativity, taste, appearance/plating, and practicality, as well as their verbal presentation.
Following a well-fought, Rio Vista student chefs Brian and Miranda tied for first place. Brian’s recipe of chicken enchilada casserole and Miranda’s recipe of pasta with chicken and broccoli with both be featured on the District’s elementary menu in May.
This event was made possible by the PYLUSD Nutrition Services and Early Childhood Development Departments, Yorba Linda High School, and the judges who offered their time and expertise. Bon appétit, PYLUSD!