Petway's Dominic Mercado wins 5th Annual Future Chef Competition

Nine top chefs from the district’s elementary schools outfitted themselves in signature white hats and jackets as they whipped up their custom “Healthy Mexican Fiesta” themed food on March 27 for an enthusiastic live audience and attentive judges at Wallace Middle School.

After 30 minutes of intense preparation, all the dishes were put on display for judging and tasting. The winning recipe was declared to be the Mexican Watermelon Salad by Dominic Mercado from Petway School.

It was all part of the Future Chef competition, now in its fifth year, sponsored by Sodexo, the district’s food-service provider.

Students from the district’s eight elementary schools submitted over 40 recipes for the healthy dishes. Narrowing the group down to one per school required some “tough decisions”, according to Purvesh Patel, the district’s food service director.

"The whole concept of this is to help educate the kids in healthy eating habits," he told the audience of mostly parents and family members.

Final judging was based on:

• Health-conscious foods

• Simple, kid-friendly preparation

• Taste

• Best Table Presentation

The judges were John Frangipani, assistant superintendent; Scott English, Board of Education president; Vineland Mayor Anthony Fanucci; and Board of Education member Cedric Holmes. They awarded points for each dish 1 to 5 scale, with 5 being the top score.

In addition to keeping her chef jacket and hat, Dominic won an Echo Dot, cookbook, a cookware set, and other cooking tools. The top three winners received medals and all participants received certificates in addition to keeping their chef uniform.

Second place went to McKenzie Broyles from Durand Elementary School and her Mexican Zucchini Burrito Boats. Finishing third was Aishwarya Clarke from Barse School, who made Chicken Chimichangas.

The other contenders were: Malik Sleiman from Sabater School, who made Burrito Zucchini Boats; Camila Montes from Mennies School, who made Guacamole; Amy Matos from Rossi School, who made Black Beans Guacamole; Paulina Tomlin from AMSA at Johnstone, who made Mexican Pinwheels; Angelina Tyler from Winslow School, who made Pepper Rocco; and Arianna Harold from Winslow School, who made Tostada Waffles.

Click the following link for a gallery of photos from the event: https://goo.gl/cjGd9Q

VPS Broadcasting was also at the event and a news piece will be available on our YouTube channel, VLDSchoolsTV, shortly.