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FHSD Elementary students showcase skills in ‘Future Chefs’ challenge

Hridaya Bhatt accepts her first place medal for the ‘Future Chefs National Challenge’ cooking competition.

By: Jordan Glowczwski

Up-and-coming chefs in Francis Howell School District (FHSD) elementary schools put after-school snacks to shame with professionally prepared dishes. FHSD students in grades K-5 participated in a cooking competition against peers for a chance at regionals on Feb. 21, at the Francis Howell High School kitchen. Fifteen students each made a dish to be tasted by the four judges. Third-grade student Hridaya Bhatt took home the coveted first place finish with her Sandwich Dhokla.

This new ‘Future Chefs National Challenge’ cooking competition, sponsored by the District’s food service provider, Sodexo, prepares students at a young age to cook their own dishes and provides a realistic experience of what happens behind the scenes of the hospitality industry. Realistic challenges, realistic solutions and lots of different foods.

 “A student making crepes did not have the correct pan, and we had to find one to work,” Karin Mann, the District’s food service manager said, “This can make even a seasoned chef nervous, but she worked through the issues and did a beautiful job.”

Bhatt learned how to cook in second grade by learning different cultural recipes from her mom. Sandwich Dhokla is a savory cultural food from India that is made of rice and fermented lentils. 
”My mom and I used to make [the winning dish, Sandwich Dhokla] a long time ago, and then she said ‘why don't we enter in the contest,’” Bhatt said.

She enjoys using a gas stove to cook things, as well as cutting things with a knife. She said her favorite part was her family coming to support her in the competition. 

Along with being able to go to regionals, Bhatt also won a kit full of pans, mixing bowls, and other cooking supplies.

Mann also complimented Independence Elementary 5th grader Micheal Barnes and his dish, barbecued beef on a bun. 

Barnes enjoyed having the judges eating his food, and talking to him about his recipe. 

“My mom taught me a bunch of her recipes that she made as a kid, and my dad loves to grill, so I would always help him out,” Barnes said. “My favorite part [of cooking] is being able to be hands-on.” 

Francis Howell congratulates all 15 of the participants, and wishes good luck to Hridaya Bhatt in regionals. Recipes created by the young chefs will be made into a cookbook. More information about Sodexo and the ‘Future Chefs National Challenge’ may be found on the Sodexo Website