Students showed up at the middle school four nights in a row, Sept. 16-20, and were greeted by counters covered with fresh local produce, seasonings and sauces. Each student was required to use a certain number of vegetables, fruits, meats and dairy products in their dishes.
During the Sept. 20 finale, students created three separate dishes that had to include the secret ingredient: yogurt. Each competitor created an entrée, but family members got to select the other two dishes – soup, salad, beverage, appetizer, a side dish or dessert, club leader MaryAnne LaMaitre explained.
The four students then disappeared into their kitchen area to plan their meals. They were allowed to have members of their family help them cook.
“Remember, they have to follow your plan,” LaMaitre reminded them. “No changing your recipe.”
Unlike the televised version of the show, the chefs were not competing against each other, LaMaitre said. Instead, they cooked only for their own families and created a small sample plate for LaMaitre. Their families were then asked to choose their favorite dish from the three.
Throughout the week, the students learned to make a variety of different dishes, including ratatouille and stuffed peppers. They also made their own pesto, salad dressing, soups and beverages.
LeMaitre said several students took part in the Iron Chef club throughout the week.
“We’ve maintained four kitchens pretty consistently,” she said.
On Friday, all four kitchens were full. The youngest chef was 9-year-old Luke Shafer, who was standing in for his older brother Nathan. With the help of his mom, Kim, Shafer made a pork main dish with baked apples, dates and cashews.
Shaylan Hutchinson and Hailey Myers, both 12, were cooking for full tables, serving approximately eight people each. Hutchinson finished her meal by offering a plate of fruit drizzled in chocolate, while Myers made a drink using chocolate combined with a variety of fruits and nuts. Remy Davis, also 12, prepared a pork and rice dish with the help of her dad.
LaMaitre said that overall, she was very happy with the way the club worked out.
“These guys have been amazing all week long,” she said. “They’ve given me the chills.
Ashly Hunter, BEACON’s middle school site coordinator, said several local businesses helped by providing food items for the program.
Hunter said the club is just one of BEACON’s Afterschool Family Clubs. The organization will offer one club each trimester.
LaMaitre said the group donated all the leftover vegetables to Seekhaven Family Resource Center.