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Clyde’s Caliente Cowboys from Buncombe Cook Their Way to Kentucky

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The Caliente Cowboys and Cowgirl, a student culinary team from Clyde A. Erwin High School in Buncombe County, cooked their way to first place in the first-ever North Carolina Jr. Chef Competition, held Monday at Guilford Technical Community College. With their Hot Asheville Chicken with Farmers Market Salad, team members Jacob Boyd, Lane Worley and Haley Marlowe won top honors, a trophy and a ticket to Kentucky to represent North Carolina in the Southeast Jr. Chef Competition. Ashe County High School took second place with a recipe for Chicken Cheese Enchiladas. Topsail High School in Pender County took third place with a Tropical Chicken Wr

For the North Carolina Jr. Chef Competition, Sullivan University in Kentucky – where the Southeast Jr. Chef Competition will be held next month – is offering the following scholarships to attend their university to each student team member: 1st place – $16,000, 2nd place – $10,000, 3rd place – $6,000. North Carolina’s first place team from Buncombe County will compete against teams from other states in the Southeast May 9-10 for the following scholarships to attend Sullivan University: 1st place – full tuition and fees (value of $45,000 – $55,000 each), 2nd place – tuition (value of $47,000 each), 3rd place – $20,000 scholarship.

Every student showcased their skills in a tight race with all teams taking a gold or silver medal in the North Carolina Jr. Chef Competition. The first, second and third place teams received gold medals along with Parkwood High School in Union County. East Gaston High School and Hunter Hess High School in Gaston County, East Mecklenburg High School in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school district and West Carteret High School in Carteret County all received silver medals. Results of the competition were announced Monday evening in Greensboro during the opening session of the state conference of the North Carolina Family, Career and Community Leaders of America, a chapter of the national FCCLA.

As part of the competition, students were challenged to work with their Family and Consumer Sciences teachers and School Nutrition directors to develop a creative recipe for a school lunch entrée that meets the National School Lunch Program nutrition standards, includes at least two North Carolina-grown products and one USDA Foods item, is replicable by School Nutrition Programs, and meets student taste-test preferences. As Career and Technical Education food, nutrition and culinary arts students, participation in the first-ever North Carolina Jr. Chef Competition offered an unprecedented opportunity to translate skills learned in the classroom to real-world kitchens developing recipes to be featured on future school menus across the state. In this way, the Junior Chef Competition fulfills the goals of inspiring the next generation of culinary professionals, stimulating interest in locally produced agriculture, increasing participation in School Nutrition Programs, providing nutrition education, and encouraging healthy eating habits.

During the cook-off, teams were challenged to prepare, cook and plate their recipes and present their dish along with the results of student taste tests and surveys to judges. Teams were evaluated and recognized for their ability to work as members of a team to demonstrate valuable skills in recipe development, food preparation, marketing, public presentation, organization, and local food systems.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) launched the Southeast Jr. Chef Competition and challenged each of the eight states in the Southeast to identify a team of students to represent their state at the Southeast Jr. Chef Competition. The School Nutrition Services Section and Career and Technical Education Division at the N.C. Department of Public Instruction partnered with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services Farm to School ProgramNC FCCLA (Family, Career and Community Leaders of America) and the Farm to School Coalition of NC to plan the first North Carolina Jr. Chef Competition. In addition, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, the North Carolina Chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier and the School Nutrition Association of North Carolina have provided generous support. Les Dames d’Escoffier NC is hosting a fundraiser Thursday to help the first-place North Carolina team travel to the competition in Kentucky.

More details about the North Carolina Jr. Competition are available online and on DPI’s Facebook pageStay tuned for recipes, photos and videos from this year’s cook-off. Additional information regarding School Nutrition Programs in North Carolina can be found on the School Nutrition Services website. USDA and NCDPI are equal opportunity providers and employers.