March 21, 2019
The recent “Wakulla County Schools-Sodexo Future Chefs Challenge” had eight elementary school finalists cooking for a local panel of judges, resulting in one overall winner, Riversink Elementary School’s third grader Raine Toombs.
Superintendent Bobby Pearce introduced changes in breakfast and lunch service to Wakulla’s public education students beginning in the fall of 2016. Sodexo, a worldwide “quality of life” organization, is in its third year of managing Wakulla County Schools Food Services.
At the helm is Lisa McCloudy, Sodexo General Manager of Wakulla County Schools Food and Nutrition Services. In charge of Operations is Tiffany Pleas. All year they work on creating more student interest in nutrition, plus they run the day-to-day operations of feeding thousands of Wakulla students breakfast and lunch.
The annual “Sodexo Future Chefs Cook Off” is one of those events that stirs student interest. On March 21, McCloudy and many of Wakulla’s Food Service employees organized the cook off that was held at Wakulla High School with this year’s theme of “Fiesta Fit, Mexican Food”.
Says McCloudy, “This annual event creates positive behavioral changes in students by enabling them to get actively involved in good nutrition. More than 2,000 students representing over 1,300 Sodexo-served schools in 30 states were selected to participate in 110 events.
“Our eight finalists surfaced as Wakulla’s elementary students submitted their recipes and Wakulla Food Service employees chose two winning recipes from each of the four schools.
“The eight finalists were selected based on the originality, presentation, ease of preparation, kid-friendliness, and healthiness of their recipes. One student’s recipe stood out the most and she was announced as the 2019 Wakulla County Future Chef winner.”
Finalists and their dishes are:
Raine Toombs (Riversink Elementary, Grade 3) - Mexican Quiche – First Place
Alexis Nichols (Riversink Elementary, Grade 3) - Chicken Lasagna
Jasmine Nettles (Shadeville Elementary, Grade 4) - Chipotle Bean Burritos
Savannah Giddens (Shadeville Elementary, Grade 3) - Zucchini Taco Boat
Christian Whitelock (Medart Elementary, Grade 5) - Avocado & Shrimp Lettuce Wraps
Brooklynn Green (Medart Elementary, Grade 5) - Bonus Burritos
Ivy Swope (Crawfordville Elementary, Grade 4) - Pulled Pork Burrito Bowl
Chase Hall (Crawfordville Elementary, Grade 4) - Mexican Corn Salad
First Place winner Raine Toombs stated, “I picked this recipe because it tastes good and it’s fun to make.” She also went on to tell why her recipe was so unique. The outer crust was baked sweet potatoes and that’s what made the quiche different.
Local judges’ comments ranged from “Students were great at answering our questions as we sampled their dishes” to “It was a first-class operation, with everything so well-organized.” Another added, “I could not believe the depth of knowledge about ingredients, flavor variety, and presentation in students as young as third grade.”
“While healthy eating can be a challenge for children and parents, Sodexo has held Future Chefs events throughout February and March of this year. The winning student from each participating district will be considered for the regional finalist awards, and the selected regional finalists will compete to become one of five national finalists,” says McCloudy. “We wish Raine Toombs the best of luck.”