Salad days Rutland students compete in annual healthy food challenge
By Josh O’Gorman
STAFF WRITER | March 29,2013
Albert J. Marro / Staff Photo
Izibela Woolf finished second in the annual Future Chefs: Healthy Snack Challenge at Rutland Intermediate School on Thursday.
Good, healthy food is something to be thankful for.
Fifth-grader Reese Shattuck took the gold medal for his “Thanksgiving Salad” during the third annual Future Chefs: Healthy Snack Challenge, held Thursday afternoon at Rutland Intermediate School.
“I was surprised I won. I didn’t think I was going to,” the 10-year-old Shattuck said shortly after receiving his prize package, which included a basket filled with cooking utensils and a $50 iTunes gift card. “I wanted to make a salad with Thanksgiving things in it.”
Shattuck’s salad included dried cranberries, slices of Granny Smith apples, fried onions and turkey.
The event was hosted by Sodexo, which provides food for the Rutland City school system.
“Every year we have a different theme, and this year’s theme is salads,” said Marty Irion, food service director, just before yelling out, “Only 30 minutes left!” to the finalists as they prepared their dishes.
The Iron Chef-style competition was open to fourth- and fifth-graders, with 17 pupils submitting recipes. Five pupils made the cut, and they kept one eye on the clock and another on their platters as they arranged chicken, hard-boiled eggs and other salad toppings.
Fifth-grader Jesus Makar Mancinas-Stepanenko, 11, was the first to finish his entry, “Jesus’ Greek Salad.”
“I picked it because it’s an easy-to-make salad,” he said. “I made it with my dad a few times.”
“I’m Russian and my husband’s Mexican, so it’s part of our culture to cook,” said Jesus’ mother, Natalya Stepanenko. “Our kids, they like borscht as much as they like quesadillas.”
A panel of three judges — Steve Peters, Marilyn Edwards and Ron Parlman — scored the salads on originality, healthy attributes, taste and presentation. When the scores were tallied, 5 points separated first place from fifth, with only a 1-point margin between first and second.
Fourth grader Izibela Woolf, 10, took second place and the silver medal for “Izzi’s White-and-Green Goodness,” which included hard-boiled eggs, roasted broccoli and homemade croutons. But what kind of salad does she like?
“This, but without the eggs, blue cheese and broccoli,” she said.
Fifth-grader Elisha Gilman, 10, made a tortellini salad with chicken, cherry tomatoes and carrots, and a dressing of olive oil, vinegar, garlic powder, oregano and lemon juice.
“You know how salad dressings start out mellow and then boom in your mouth? Mine starts out with a boom and then gets mellow,” Gilman said. “I don’t usually cook at home, but when I do, I cook cool things, like chocolate dumplings.”
Fifth-grader Jacob McKeegan, 11, took a page from his former Texas home with his recipe for “Southwest Salad.”
“I just threw together a few things that I really like,” McKeegan said of his salad, which included grilled chicken, mango, avocado, pepper-jack cheese and spinach.
Any chance these salads might end up on a school lunch tray?
“Absolutely,” Irion said, “especially with these kinds of salads. They could end up on the menu.”