By CRAIG FREILICH
POTSDAM – In a quest to find and disseminate healthy recipes with local produce that can be made easily in a school cafeteria, the second annual North Country Jr. Iron Chef competition takes place Saturday, March 8 at A.A. Kingston Middle School on Lawrence Avenue.
In the weeks before the event, sponsored and organized by the Health Initiative, staff were reviewing recipes submitted by teams entered in the Jr. Iron Chef.
“We’re looking for three criteria” said Sarah Bentley-Garfinkel, the Initiative’s schools program director and North Country Jr. Iron Chef coordinator.
A recipe “has to be food-service friendly – it could be easily prepared in a cafeteria kitchen.
“Second, it has to be reasonably healthy – low in saturated fat and sodium, for instance.
“And the required ingredients are at least two foods from local sources and two from the commodity foods list” prepared by the USDA, Bentley-Garfinkel said.
“What we’re really up to is that these are really possible to create in a school cafeteria with good local resources that are nutritious and healthy.
“I have been impressed with the creative concoctions and preparation” of the teams, she said.
The first Jr. Iron Chef last year went well, Bentley-Garfinkel said, and this year there are more teams entered.
Eight high school teams and 18 middle school teams from across the North Country will compete to make the best dishes using a combination of local and USDA (commodity) foods that realistically could be prepared in a school cafeteria.
The event is free to attend and will start with the middle school competition at 10 a.m., followed by the high school competition at 2 p.m.
“There will be family activities and judging in the middle school gym. We’re encouraging people to come watch the teams cook and enjoy some simple fun activities – and watch the winners be announced.”
She said the recipes the students come up with will be on the Health Initiative’s Jr. Iron Chef web site at http://www.ncjrironchef.org/.
“And we will send an email to all the schools in the seven-county region” to show them some recipes that they might want to add to their menus, Bentley-Garfinkel said.