As one of the first youth culinary competitions in the country, Jr Iron Chef VT has challenged and inspired more than 3,000 students to learn about and source local ingredients, develop recipes that inspire school meal programs, and cook whole, local foods from scratch. Teams have just 90 minutes to prepare their kid-tested, seasonal fare. Jr Iron Chef VT winning teams will receive generous prize packages, and will have the opportunity to prepare their recipes for legislators at the Vermont Statehouse on April 12th.
Aside from engaging and exciting young epicureans, Jr Iron Chef VT also builds workforce development.
“This contest is a great way to get kids excited about working with food,” says John Mandeville, one of the guest judges for this year’s competition, and the co-chair of the Education and Workforce Development Working Group. “We need young people to understand the importance of a strong local food economy, and Jr Iron Chef VT teaches that with hands-on, participatory experiences.”
Part of the Farm to Plate network, the Education and Workforce Development Working Group focuses on strategies and the development of resources to improve and enhance programs that lead to careers in the food system. For those who move into other industries, Jr Iron Chef engages students with the confidence, self-management skills, and teamwork needed for the workforce at large.
The judge’s panel includes 20 community role models who have helped shape Vermont’s current workforce, including farmers, teachers, chefs, students, food writers, legislators, and other stakeholders in the Farm to School movement. Jr Iron Chef VT is a program of Vermont FEED (Food Education Every Day), a partnership project of NOFA-VT and Shelburne Farms.
The 11th annual Jr Iron Chef VT takes place Saturday, March 17, from 9 am to 4 pm at the Champlain Valley Expo Center in Essex Junction. The entry fee is $3 for an individual and $5 for a family (up to four people). Award ceremonies for the two heats are at 12 pm and 3 pm. Jr Iron Chef VT is made possible by many business, agencies, and individuals.
For more information visit www.jrironchefvt.org.