Rosa Parks/Millbrook Elementary Junior Chef wins Future Chefs Challenge
The Sodexo Future Chefs Challenge returned to Lancaster ISD for the third year, bringing the opportunity for an intense competition between six young chefs. The Future Chefs Challenge encourages elementary students across the nation to learn more about nutrition, create healthy food habits, and develop proper cooking techniques.
“The Child Nutrition Department is thrilled to have the Future Chefs Challenge back in Lancaster ISD after it was canceled last year due to COVID-19,” said Lancaster ISD District Chef Brittanie James. “This is a great opportunity for first through fifth-grade students to participate in a fun challenge. It teaches them about healthy food choices, and they learn the basics of cooking.”
Every year, student chefs submit their recipes for the challenge based on a different theme. This year, they were asked to prepare their favorite meal from a book or a movie in a healthy way. Participants were chosen based on their recipe’s originality, ease of preparation, ingredient list, and kid-friendliness.
On the evening of the competition, the junior chefs and their adult helpers took over the Lancaster High School cafeteria to bring their recipes to life. After a quick review of kitchen safety rules and one hour on the clock to prepare their meals, the chefs and their helpers sprang into action. Each team was full of confidence and determination as they followed their recipes.
An hour later, the six chefs emerged from the cafeteria, grinning, carrying their plated masterpieces to their table to present to the judges.
Victoria Jusino, a third-grader from Rosa Parks/Millbrook Elementary School, took home the top prize with her Anabolic Cheesecake Muffins recipe. As the winner, Victoria will also be entered into the Future Chefs National Challenge.
“I’m excited that my recipe won,” said Jusino. “My dad helped me choose the cheesecake muffins. We had a lot of fun learning how to make them healthy, and I’m happy the judges voted for my recipe.”
Student Chef and Houston Elementary second-grader Leah McFann placed second with her No Meat Meatloaf recipe.
Student Chef and Belt Line Elementary second-grader Kelly Lane placed third with her Sassy Shrimp Salad recipe.
“We want the student chefs to leave the challenge with a sense of independence and more knowledge about nutrition and building healthier recipes,” said James. “This is a way for kids to have fun and express their creativity in the kitchen.”
Lancaster ISD and the Child Nutrition Department are proud to provide this opportunity for elementary students to engage in a healthy culinary competition. The students will use the skills they’ve learned to continue to make healthy food choices and prepare healthy meals.
1st place winner, Victoria Jusino
2nd place winner, Leah McFann
3rd place winner, Kelly Lane
Victoria’s Anabolic Cheesecake Muffins Recipe
- 93g Honey Graham Crackers
- 60g Sugar-Free Maple Syrup
- 168g Fat-Free Cream Cheese (room temperature)
- 126g Fat-Free Greek Yogurt
- 96g Vanilla Protein Powder
- 30g Zero Calorie Sweetener
- 18g Vanilla Extract
- In a large mixing bowl or food processor, add the graham crackers and break them up into a powder-like consistency. Add the maple syrup and mix until well-combined with a spoon.
- Line a 6-slot muffin pan with muffin liners and evenly scoop the graham cracker mixture into each slot. Flatten out the mixture with a spoon until the crust evenly lines the bottom of the pan and set aside.
- Add the cream cheese, yogurt, protein powder, sweetener, and vanilla extract to a large mixing bowl. Mix until well combined
- Evenly spoon the filling into the muffin pan and smooth out each cheesecake from edge to edge
- Place in the refrigerator until they are ready to serve.
Yield: 6 servings