Vineland students battle for Future Chef title

Vineland students battle for Future Chef title

Vineland students battle for Future Chef title

Deborah M. Marko, @dmarko_dj
Published 8:42 p.m. ET Feb. 21, 2018 | Updated 9:59 p.m. ET Feb. 21, 2018

VINELAND – The Future Chef competition, hosted by the school’s district food service provider, is graduating to middle school.

The Sodexo culinary contest, previously open to elementary school students, will feature five seventh- and eighth-grade contenders, due to demand, said Purvesh Patel, the school district’s director of food service.

The upperclassmen wanted to showcase their mix-and-fix skills.

Students were invited to submit recipes fitting this year’s theme, Healthy Asian Fusion Food. Submissions were narrowed to five finalists who will prepare their dishes on deadline before a panel of judges March 22 at Wallace Intermediate School cafeteria.

The contenders and their recipes are:

  • Ella Bruno Sileo of Rossi – Thai Taco Raps
  • Brielle Davis of Veterans Memorial – Healthy Lettuce Wrap
  • Sarah Hullihen of Veterans Memorial – Sarah’s Signature Stir-Fry Wrap
  • Noah Kouhoupt of  Veterans Memorial- Shanghai Mixed Rice
  • Rustem Kultanov of Veterans Memorial – Lagman

The contest is more than just fun, Patel said. The goal is to encourage students to make healthy food choices.

Judges will rank recipes based on originality, kid-friendliness, ease of preparation, healthy attributes, plate presentation and taste.

In addition to the Future Chef title, the winner takes home a Fitbit fitness tracker and a super-sized basket of cooking supplies.


Sodexo stopped by Rossi Intermediate School to announce student, Ella Bruno Sileo, is a finalist in the upcoming Future Chef competition. Feb. 20, 2018
Deborah M. Marko

With the subtlety of a Publisher’s Clearing House prize patrol, Patel and Sodexo chef Mark Daino visited district classrooms to notify students they were finalists.

On Tuesday, they stopped by Rossi Intermediate School to surprise Ella with her contest invitation, a balloon and the white chef coat she will wear to compete.

Her submission was the result of some culinary experimentation, she said. Inspired by several recipes, she merged what she liked into a new dish.

“I tried a few,” Ella said, tying the congratulations balloon to the back of her chair.

Cooking is something she enjoys. Her grandparents have a restaurant in Salem, which bears her name, Ella’s Mama Mia’s.

Ella had no shortage of willing taste-testers in her recipe development stage.

“My dad really liked it,” she said. Another endorsement came from her younger brother, 9-year-old Luca.

“And he’s a picky eater,” Ella said.

After developing the recipe, the young chef tweaked it, trying different preparation techniques and getting feedback from her mom as to which tasted best.

Last year, Kaitlynn Carpenter, a Durand Elementary fifth-grader, won the competition, besting seven other student chefs, with her Grilled Chicken Salad with Yogurt dressing.

Sodexo featured the eight student salad recipes in its school district catering menu this past year, Daino said.

Deborah M. Marko; 856-563-5256; [email protected]; Twitter: @dmarko_dj

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