64 Teams to Compete in 7th Annual Farm to School Youth Culinary Competition

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contact: Vera Chang, vchang@shelburnefarms.org, 917.846.1865

Essex Junction, VT, March 12, 2014  – Ready, set, chop! On Saturday, March 22, over 270 middle and high school students will compete in the state’s seventh annual Junior Iron Chef competition. This year, organizers are taking the program to new heights.

In 2008, Vermont Food Education Every Day (VT FEED, a partnership of NOFA-VT, Shelburne Farms, and, at the time, Food Works at Two Rivers Center) and the Burlington School Food Project (BSFP) founded one of the first youth culinary competitions to focus on local food and school meals. Guided by coaches – local chefs, food service directors, and teachers, student teams create original recipes that incorporate at least five local vegetables and follow USDA school meal standards. This year, teams have the added challenge of sourcing all their ingredients themselves. With these rigorous guidelines, youth contestants work through real-life challenges similar to those food service face creating healthy, nutritious meals for schools.

The day of the competition, teams will have just 90 minutes to prepare their kid-tested, local fare. Rainbow Root Latkes with Apple Compote, Rootin'-Tootin' Root Veggie and Black Bean Burritos with Basil Tortillas and Zesty Yogurt Sauce, and Maple Spiced Apple and Goat Cheese Crepes are just a few of the dishes on this year’s menu.

JIC VT helps us create school programs that do more than teach cooking skills, recipe development, and local sourcing,” said Lonny Paige, Twin Valley Schools Food Service Director and the coach of three JIC VT 2013 winning teams. “It teaches our students how they can contribute to community. Our kids are now culinary role models, initiating demonstrations and cooking local farm-fresh foods within Twin Valley schools and for organizations like the Brattleboro Hospice.”  

JIC VT winning teams will have the opportunity to prepare their recipes for legislators in the Vermont Statehouse on April 8. Their dishes will also be featured on school lunch menus around the state.

Under the guidance of Chef Jim Birmingham of the New England Culinary Institute, the 24 JIC VT judges include Secretary of the Vermont Agency of Education Rebecca Holcombe, former Vermont Governor Madeline Kunin, food service staff, students, farmers, and chefs.

Recently called “the farm-to-school capital of the world” in Edible Manhattan, Vermont has some of the longest-standing farm to school programs in the country. Since its founding, JIC VT has more than doubled the number of participants with teams coming from every corner of the state. The growth and success of JIC VT is attributed to the dedication to farm to school by the state’s food service professionals, nonprofit organizations, and policymakers.

The 7th Annual JIC VT will take place from 9:00am to 3:30pm and will be held at the Champlain Valley Expo Center in Essex Junction, VT. Cost for attendance is $3 for an individual, $5 for a family. JIC VT is sponsored by School Nutrition Association of Vermont, Vermont Agency of Agriculture Food & Markets, G.housen, Circulon gourmet cookware, Blodgett, and WCAX. For more information, please visit www.jrironchefvt.org.

###