Special to El Observador
Future chefs representing various elementary schools in the San Jose Unified School district showcased their cooking talents in the 3rd Annual Future Chefs: Healthy Salad Challenge on Tuesday, February 5, 2013.
The salad making competition sponsored by Sodexo, a Quality of Life service provider to San Jose Unified School District, took place at Gunderson High School.
The 10 finalists, whose salad recipes were chosen among the 139 entries, prepared their healthy choice meals for a panel of judges and parents.
According to Karis Gulizia, SJUSD Operations Manager Student Nutrition Department, the mission of the Healthy Salad Challenge competitions is to encourage children to make smart food choices.
“There is a real problem with childhood obesity and diabetes, and so letting the kids know that they have the power over what goes in their mouths, it gives them a sense of ownership, Kids are more likely to eat something if they had a stake in creating it,” said Gulizia.
Among the anxious parents coaching their future chefs from the sideline was Angel Rosas, “She did not sleep last night she was so nervous, I was so proud of her that she did it, she was so excited,” said Rosas about her daughter Vanessa Rosas.
Her salad entitled Yummy Steak Salad, which appeared to have a Tex-Mex twist, complete black beans, red peppers, sour cream was garnished with crunchy tortilla chips, “They get to have fun doing this,” she concluded.
The contestants were not only judged on the taste of their salads, but presentation, originality, health ingredients, and last but not least, kid friendliness.
“It’s something that the average kid would eat, third through fifth grade, if my third grader is going to sit down and eat something, it’s probably not going to be spinach, so just interesting ingredient that the kids would enjoy,” added Gulizia.
Anoushka Shah, a third grader from Simonds Elementary School took first place with her Bean Salad, she also took home two season passes to Great America and a gift basket with all the essential cooking utensils she will need when she presents her Bean Salad at regional competition for the opportunity to advance to the national challenge.
“I love it, she’s been so excited since she found out. It’s amazing, it’s a really good experience for her,” said Sapna Shah, the first place winner’s mother, “She really likes to cook so she asked me, ‘mommy can we submit?’,” said Shah adding that it encourages the kids to eat healthy and to become more aware of what is fresh.