High school and middle school students Rachel May, Maci Poskey, Renita Morrison, Alex Rodriguez, Vincent Orlando and Jessie Zhou won first place in their divisions at the annual Shelby County Cook-off Nov. 22. (Contributed)
High school and middle school students Rachel May, Maci Poskey, Renita Morrison, Alex Rodriguez, Vincent Orlando and Jessie Zhou won first place in their divisions at the annual Shelby County Cook-off Nov. 22. (Contributed)

Teens participate in countywide cook-off

Published 1:37pm Monday, November 25, 2013

By STEPHANIE BRUMFIELD / Staff Writer

MONTEVALLO – Middle and high school students across the county showcased their culinary talents Nov. 22 in a countywide cook-off sponsored by Shelby County Schools and hosted by the University of Montevallo.

Schools across the county were invited to send up to three students to participate in the cook-off, which involved the students independently making dishes to be entered in one of three categories – poultry, beef or dairy. Local cooking connoisseurs selected middle and high school winners in each category.

“Judging was very difficult because (the dishes) were all very tasty,” said Amy Lee, a Shelby County schools employee who helped judge the poultry division.

In the middle school division, Lee said she “never would have guessed middle school students would have prepared those.” In the high school division, she said several dishes looked like “real culinary dishes” complete with first-class presentation and garnishes.

“This has been a treat,” she said. “We just appreciate Montevallo for allowing us to come and use their kitchens. We don’t have this type of space at our schools.”

Most students who participated in the cook-off are currently enrolled in family and consumer sciences classes or are members of the student organization FCCLA, or Family, Career and Community Leaders of America.

Katie Hamrick, an eleventh grader at Montevallo High School, participated as a member of FCCLA. She made garlic lemon double-stuffed chicken.

“I found the recipe and tried it at home, and it was really good, so I just went with it,” Hamrick said. “I’m more of a hands-on learner, so the more I can do with my hands, the more I learn.”

Vincent Orlando, a sixth grader at Chelsea Middle School, made penne pasta with beef and arugula, a dish he says he learned to make from his dad. Orlando won first place in the middle school beef division.

“It’s one of my dad’s favorite dishes, and he’s the cook in the family,” Orlando said. “I just started getting into cooking because of my dad.”

All participants were given certificates, and winners were provided with cash prizes from the Alabama Farmer’s Federation and the CattleWomen’s Association. Participating students also went on a campus tour as part of the event.

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