WEST ALLIS — While college basketball played its national championship on Monday, April 3, West Allis schools had its final six last week, and the competition was just as tough.
Six elementary school chefs prepared their recipes for judges March 29 at Nathan Hale High School in the fifth junior chef cooking competition.The contest is held nationally by Sodexo, the food service company that serves the West Allis-West Milwaukee schools.
The winner was possible future chef Jason Zehe from Walker Elementary School. His winning entry was a black bean vegie burger. His recipe will go on to the regional competition where West Allis has won for three straight years. Those winners went on to the semi-finals. The next step is the nationals.
Steve Kosnar, Sodexo food service director for the district, said he is proud of the West Allis chefs.
But he said, "I'm a little competitive, I want to get to nationals."
All three of the regional winners were from Hoover Elementary School. Young Jason's win broke Hoover's reign.
One might think that girls would dominate the competition, but not so.
True, last year's winner from West Allis was a girl, but the two before her were both boys, Kosnar said. But be they boys or girls, Kosnar said the winners over the years have usually loved to watch cooking shows on television.
While last year's competition was for a breakfast recipe, this year it was comfort food. The source of the recipes was wide open from students creating their own recipes or choosing recipes from the internet. The main requirements are that they be tasty and kid-friendly, or something kids would eat.
Entries pour in
The more than 85 entries from students all over the district were evaluated by the Sodexo staff and the top six were chosen. No names or schools were on the recipes. They had to stand on their own, Kosnar said.
Then last week, the six students gathered at Nathan Hale High School where they had just 60 minutes to prepare their dishes for the judges.
The panel of judges usually includes the district dietitian, a school board member, one or two chefs and the Sodexo district manager.