Washougal, WA — Eight Washougal elementary students put their culinary skills to the test at Sodexo’s Future Chefs Challenge at Washougal High School on Wednesday, March 6.  This year’s theme was healthy and delicious Mexican food. 

Elementary students across the district submitted recipes and these eight were selected to participate in the cooking event.  The student creations were judged on criteria such as originality, taste, presentation, and use of healthy ingredients. The finalists prepared and presented their recipes with the help of WHS culinary students and Sodexo staff.

Although all entries were winners having been selected from a larger number of recipes entered, taking first place was Skylar Stotts from Columbia River Gorge Elementary for his Pineapple Guacamole.  Second place went to Wylie Gibson of Hathaway Elementary with her Wild Goose Fajitas.  

Other competitors were, from Hathaway, Charolotte Bisila who made Taco Salad, Abigal Picho created Tostados and Cody Jacobus built a Chicken Enchilada Casserole.  Mari-Jayne Kephart from Cape Horn-Skye made her Fabulous Mexican Rice.  From Gause Elementary Kamea Roy made Nacho Chicken Nachos and Joselyn Guajardo created Ensalades de Frijol Negro y Mango. 

Preparing food.

Jacobus explained that his recipe for Chicken Enchilada Casserole came from his mother.  “I’ve been practicing making it since I heard about this competition,” he said. “The secret is five layers of goodness with tortillas, sauce, chicken and cheese.”  

“I didn’t have to do much at all to help,” said WHS culinary student, Mason Meeks, who assisted Jacobus.  “He actually taught me how to make it.  I have never seen enchiladas fixed this way.”   Meek, a senior, took the culinary class for fun and plans to be a pilot. 

“This was one of the hardest jobs I had to do all day,” admitted Mary Templeton, WSD Superintendent who was a judge in the contest.  “I am so impressed with the creativity and innovation the kids are showing.  And they are taking this work seriously and are being very professional.  I love seeing them demonstrate many of the 21st century skills we are working to teach in our classrooms.” 

Templeton also appreciated the healthy aspect of the recipes “Fresh vegetables, lean meats, and full of flavor,” she said. “In a word, delicious!”

Washougal School District Superintendent, Mary Templeton, samples some food.
WSD Superintendent Mary Templeton samples food.

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