Thanks to YALSA and the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, Northampton Area Public Library was able to offer our teens a variety of programming encompassing the many areas of STEAM education. One such program was our Chopped/Iron Chef competition. And oh boy, did we have fun.
Being a lover of cooking shows and food, I decided to combine my two favorite shows “Chopped” and “Iron Chef” into a teen competition. Not having the cooking facilities one would think you would need to have such a competition, we improvised and made it our own. Hopefully other libraries like ours will be able to feel confident in offering such a program even though they may not have the facilities for cooking.
The premise was this – offer a variety of ingredients and have the teens create a dish with a particular theme in a limited amount of time. Each dish is presented to judges (in this case, myself and 2 of my co-workers) and each judges fills out a score card with the following categories – taste, presentation, and creativity. Scores are tallied and the “chopping” begins.
(This particular snack was – Triscuit with marshmallow fluff, pepperoni, and grape)
Our first round, we had 10 teens competing. Their task was to create their most creative snack using any of the following items: assorted crackers (triscuits, graham cracker, ritz crackers) peanut butter, cream cheese, marshamallow fluff, grapes, pepperoni, assorted cheeses, celery, peppers, raisins and olives. They had 10 minutes to create, prepare and plate their dishes for judging. Each contestant was then judged on taste, creativity and presentation. Then we chopped the field in half.
In Round 2, our five remaining contestants were giving new ingredients such as, different types of bread, cold cuts, condiments, cheeses, chips, and assorted fresh vegetables. Their task was to create their most tasty sandwich with the requirement that it had to have something crunchy in it. They were given 15 minutes to make two sandwiches (to accommodate all the new judges). Again, these recipes were judged on taste, presentation and creativity. Those teens judging took their job very seriously and more chopping was completed to give us our final 3.
(Judging is serious business)
In the third and final round, we asked the finalist to make their best nachos with homemade guacamole. Queso was ready in a crockpot and the avocados were fresh. They had 15 minutes to create and plate their dishes. After a quick guacamole tutorial, the contestants were working fast and furious. Their nachos were judged and a winner was crowned.
(Winner, winner, nacho dinner!)
Holy Guacamole, what a day!
My name is Rachel Robinson and I have been the Young Adult Coordinator from the Northampton Area Public Library for the past 3 years. I have been lucky enough to be able to growth with this position and vice versa. It provides me with a much needed creative outlet and service to teens in our mostly rural community.