Maine Farm to School Cook Off Competition held in Augusta

AUGUSTA, Maine (WABI) — Sparking students’ interest and enthusiasm for fresh foods could be the secret ingredient to an annual cooking contest.

It brings together schools from across the state.

The Department of Education’s Walter’s Kitchen in Augusta was busy again, and this time it was for the final challenge of the Maine Farm to School Cook Off Competition.

“It’s exciting to see the three teams and the fact that the students and adults are working so closely together to come up with a great product and a great presentation.” said Walter Beesley of the Maine Department of Education.

Each team is made up of a student and a school nutrition professional. They work together to create the breakfast and lunch recipe for the contest, which will then be presented to a judge.

“The kitchen is the biggest classroom in the school and every child goes to this class. It’s exciting to see it all come together and have the products used on Maine farms and Maine farmers,” Beesley said.

The aim of the competition is to show healthier options for school lunch and dinner programs using local produce. The contest also involves the use of beets and buckwheat, this year’s tough local ingredients.

“Sometimes on Thursdays at school she would come and we would plan everything,” said Lewiston student chef Alan Lamesa.

Lamesa started cooking with his family when he was a child. He and his cooking partner, Alicia Smith, represent the McMahon Tigers. Together they won the regional which qualified them to compete in the final.

“I was so excited, but I had to keep my cool…but I was excited,” Lamesa said.

They also won the final challenge. Smith said she hopes to see more kids in the kitchen.

“I think the kids would enjoy the food we cooked today,” said Smith, a school professional.

Each team recipe will ultimately be compiled into a cookbook to be submitted to schools. They are also available on the Ministry of Education website for anyone to use.

“I would like us all to remember that anything we try can succeed,” Lamesa said.

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