The winner in the Keller school district’s Future Chefs competition was inspired to spend more time in the kitchen by the contest and his brother’s experience as a finalist five years earlier.
Frantony Joshua Lewis, a fifth-grader at Sunset Valley Elementary School, was one of ten fourth and fifth graders from Keller schools who donned chef’s hats and coats for the contest Tuesday evening at Timber Creek High School where they prepared their dishes and served them to judges.
From the winning “Josh’s Omelet Bites” to chicken soup, dumplings, chili and casserole, contestants gave their best versions of “Healthy Comfort Foods,” this year’s theme in the national contest sponsored by Sodexo, the district’s food service provider.
“When I heard about Future Chefs, it got me excited to cook more,” Frantony Joshua said. “I remember when my brother did this before.”
Frantony Jeremy Lewis, a senior at Fossil Ridge High School, one of many Lewis family members on hand at the contest, placed third with his “Open Faced Omelet” as a seventh grader in 2012. That was the year Keller Middle School student Lorenzo Laohoo won the national contest with his “Saturday Asian Breakfast.”
Their mom Lesia Lewis said all her children are competent in the kitchen.
“They want to eat, so they learn to cook,” she said.
The winning entry will be prepared and served later this spring as a special at DeVivo Bros. Eatery in Keller.
Anita Peden, director of operations for the district’s child nutrition department, said the Future Chefs contest is a way to get kids engaged in the kitchen and encourage them to try healthy foods.
Judges in the contest included Superintendent Randy Reid and trustees Cindy Lotton, Ruthie Keyes and Jim Stitt. Ivanna Sintes-Klein, last year’s winner, served as special guest judge.
The hardest part of being on the judging side?
“Trying to pick the one that tastes the most good because there are a lot of them that taste good,” said Ivanna, now a Trinity Meadows Intermediate sixth grader.
James Wang, dad of Jaida Wang who prepared and served “Jaida’s Mapo” a bronze medal winner, said he and his wife encourage Jaida to cook.
“It really comes down to passion. You find what your kids are passionate about and nurture that passion,” Wang said.
Several of the contestants — like Jaida who prepared a rice and beef dish she learned from her dad — used beloved family recipes.
Rylee Wolff, a fifth grader at Parkwood Hill Intermediate, made a chicken soup passed down by her great grandmother.
“I make it a lot, especially in winter,” Rylee said.