Upon first glance at the amazing dishes up for judging, few would expect the food was cooked up by a class of sixth grade students. But that's exactly who was in the kitchen during the Ecole Bilingue Iron Chef Challenge on November 25. The annual event was organized by Grade 6 teacher Sonia Schenkel, who conceived of the idea five years ago.
"I thought it would be a great opportunity for them to try cooking. Iron Chef also happened to be a big thing on TV, so I put a little bit of competition into it, and got some cooking skills going," she said.
That competitive nature of the event was evident in the behaviour of the kids Monday afternoon. Intense concentration could be seen on their faces as they brought on dish after dish of beautifully prepared recipes for the three panel judges. Some of the most memorable dishes included a cranberry fluff pastry, beet smoothies, mushroom bottle cap, and seafood paella.
"Every single year we have never been disappointed. It's always unbelievable the dishes that they create," said Schenkel.
This year was no different. Each team, consisting of three to four students, put together an elaborately planned three course menu based off the group's secret ingredient, which ranged from beets to beans, to baby corn. The exquisite presentation of each item was eye-catching and their accompanying explanations were equally impressive. The novelty of it all only grew when one considers the fact that most of the students had little to no prior cooking experience.
"I help out in the kitchen once in a while," said Grade 6 student Louis Wvong, "But I learned how to use knives properly from this challenge."
Aside from basic food preparation skills, students also learned math skills when doing measurements, estimations skills, and got some nutrition tips. They also picked up basic life skills such as how to effectively work as a team and trouble shoot problems.
"It definitely helped us all work in teams. We shared the space," said grade 6 student Lauren Mackenrot. "If one team didn't have something, we helped to find something else as a substitute."
Mackenrot says the problem solving aspects were also one of her favourite parts in the Iron Chef Challenge.
"If something does go wrong, we fix it, and it turns into something even better. It kind of works," she said.
If the quality of the dishes were any indication, judges said using the Iron Chef Challenge as a teaching tool more than just "kind of works".
Indeed, Wvong says Iron Chef got him actually cooking, not just sitting and observing.Click here or below to view more photos of the event.
Photos and article courtesy of Grade 12 David Thompson student Winnie Kwan
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