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Creative chops

The winning team “Swaggy Choppers” from Kimball Middle School were from left: LindShaw cafeterimanager; TinPanelli Family Consumer Science teacher; ErHaerr;

The winning team of the “Swaggy Choppers” from Kimball Middle School were, from left: Linda Shaw, cafeteria manager; Tina Panelli, Family Consumer Science teacher; Erin Haerr; Allison Marsh; Maria Martinez, Kimball cook; and Martin Bello. | Denise Moran ~ For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: February 21, 2013 6:43AM

SOUTH ELGIN — “Swaggy Choppers” Martin Bello, Erin Haerr and Allison Marsh from Kimball Middle School won School District U46’s first “Junior Chopped” cooking competition on Saturday at South Elgin High School.

Their final winning entrée, “World Tour Plate,” featured Greek yogurt, a German side dish of cucumbers and sour cream, Italian chicken parmigiana, and a Spanish wrap.

“We bring ‘swagaliciousness’ to the table,” Martin said.

Other competing teams were: “The Foodman Group” from Abbott Middle School, “Canton Culinary Cougars” from Canton Middle School, “Iron Wolves” from Eastview Middle School, “Team Ellis” from Ellis Middle School, “Little Panther Skillets” from Kenyon Woods Middle School, “The Cupcakes” from Larsen Middle School, and “The Food Fighters” from Tefft Middle School.

The judges included: Bob Janz of Advantage and broker for Gordon Food Service; Franco Riza Kozur, Uno’s; Christina Hernandez, U46 commissary manager; Eric TImroth, Larsen Middle School, and Miguel Medel, Abbott Middle School.

“I love watching this competition,” said Hernandez. “It’s great to see the creativity. The students are working so well under pressure. There are so many great ideas. I hope we can find an idea today that we can use in a future menu.”

The three categories that students had to prepare were: snack, breakfast and lunch.

They were all given the same ingredients. For the snack, they worked with six apples, 18 carrots, eight packages of graham crackers, one brick of cream cheese, and peanut butter.

The breakfast ingredients were one pack of sliced ham, six bananas, six tomatoes, 12 slices of pepper jack cheese, and 12 UBRS (unlimited breakfast rounds.)

Lunch ingredients included six chicken patties, one package of tortilla wraps, three cucumbers, one tub of plain yogurt, and one bag of grapes.

Three teams were eliminated after the snack competition. Three more teams were eliminated after the breakfast competition. The final two competing teams were the “Swaggy Choppers” and the “Cupcakes.”

Madison Wiltgen of Canton Middle School said her team was “chopped” after the snack competition. “We didn’t know there would be a snack entrée,” Wiltgen said. “The cream cheese threw me off.”

Tahlia Zamudio of Kenyon Woods Middle School’s team was also “chopped” after the snack competition. The favorite dish that she and her teammates, Aaima Entesham and Tiffany Basuel, like to prepare is pasta.

“The competition was a lot of fun,” Zamudio said. “I learned lots of things”

“All three of us plan to compete in the next competition,” Basuel said. “Now we know what to expect.”

Ellis Middle School Principal Perry Hayes said the competition was a great experience. “It’s outstanding that School District U46 has this opportunity for students,” Hayes said. “Programs like this are one of the reasons kids come to school. Claudie Phillips does an outstanding job.”

Phillips is the U46 Director of Food and Nutrition Services.

Carol DePue, U46 Career and Technical Education Coordinator, said: “Every time we cook, it’s an experience that combines science, technology, mathematics, and literacy skills.”

“I am so pleased to be partnered with Carol and this initiative,” said Phillips. “It truly shows initiative partnership and collaboration in providing real life experience to students in consumer services.”

Bartlett grandmother Noreen Keslinke came to watch her grandson, Eastview student Eddie Keslinke, compete in Junior Chopped.

“Eddie cooks and bakes,” Keslinke said. “It’s very thrilling for him to be in the competition. He bakes cookies in the morning and takes them to school. He can also make vegetable soup, taco skillet in one pan, and banana bread.”

Every student who competed received a medal. The winning team received a “cutting board” award that was designed by the South Elgin High School students and their instructor, Russ Bartz. There were also eight separate team awards.

Beacon Academy students at South Elgin High School who filmed the event were: Mario Calero, Rachel Christie, Perry Gottschalk, Hayley Dillon and Jack Godlewski.

The next Junior Chopped is slated for Saturday, May 18, 2013.

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