Youth Test Culinary Skills with ‘Cook This!’ 4-H Challenge

Twenty-two teams competed in three levels for prize packages and scholarships

AMES, Iowa — Iowa 4-H youth in grades 5-12 had a chance to put their culinary skills to the test, and win some prizes, with Cook This! during the Iowa State Fair. Cook This is a food and nutrition challenge for youth in its second year. The challenge drew 22 teams this year who competed in the event Aug.15-17 in the 4-H Exhibits Building.

Teams were divided by age into three levels: junior, intermediate and senior. Teams in each of the three age groups tested their knowledge of food safety, produce, food preparation and presentation, and proper use of kitchen equipment, as well as a new category this year of communicating a food-related topic. In the final part of the challenge, the teams demonstrated their cooking skills as they prepared a particular dish.

Cook This featured celebrity judges, including “That Guy Cy,” Cy Gushiken, the owner of Ohana Steakhouse and Cosi Cucina restaurants in Des Moines.

Junior Level
The junior level is made up of fifth- and sixth-grade students. Ten teams participated, with top honors going to Early Achievers (Megan Drey, Kallie Goettsch and Jack Mentzer), from Sac County, and second place to Kitchen Fanatics (Scott Star, Nolan King and Amanda Riley), from West Pottawattamie and Madison counties. Photos from the junior level challenge can be viewed on Flickr.

Intermediate Level
Seventh- and eighth-grade students make up the intermediate level. Five teams participated, with first place awarded to Triple B Country Cooks (Maree Bean, Attylissa Bailey and Sylvia Bain), from Linn, Marion and Monroe counties. Second place was awarded to Cute & Culinary (Cali Westergard, Krayton Schnept, Leah Bunkers and Rachel Wedemeyer), from Plymouth, O’Brien and Calhoun counties. Photos from the intermediate level challenge can be viewed on Flickr.

Senior Level
Senior level includes all high school grades, ninth through 12th, and seven teams participated. First place finishers in the senior level were Bake to Beat (Shelby Vansteensyk, Rachel Morgan and Jocelyn Beaver), from Marion County. Second place was Chopping Trio (Carrie Adrian, Jenny Adrian and Luke Oberbroecking), from Marion County. Photos from the senior level challenge can be viewed on Flickr.

The first-place team in each level will receive a VIP tour of Meredith’s Better Homes and Gardens Test Kitchen and photo studio. First- and second-place teams received a prize package, and all participants received exclusive Cook This aprons and Dahl’s hats.

Bake to Beat, the top-placing senior level team, also will have the opportunity to have their recipes tested in the Better Homes and Gardens Test Kitchen, as well as featured in Successful Farming magazine. In addition, each member who is planning to attend Iowa State University in a food-related major will receive a $500 scholarship sponsored by the College of Human Sciences and College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

 “We’re very thankful for all the sponsors who returned from last year or who supported this event for the first time — with cash donations, first and second place prize packages, as well as the utensils, produce and other ingredients for the Cook This challenge,” said Shelly Greving, marketing director for Iowa State University Extension 4-H Youth Development.

Those sponsors include: Dahl’s, Iowa Turkey Federation, Iowa Beef Industry Council, Iowa Pork Producers Association, Successful Farming Magazine, Better Homes and Gardens Test Kitchen, Iowa 4-H Foundation, ISU Extension, ISU College of Human Sciences and College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Fareway, Iowa Egg Council, Cookies and Tone’s Spices.

About the Iowa 4-H Youth Development Program
4-H is the nation’s largest youth development organization, serving more than 6 million young people across America with programs in leadership, citizenship, communication and life skills. One in five Iowa school-age youth participates in 4-H. In Iowa, 4-H Youth Development is headquartered at the Iowa State University campus in Ames. 4-H is supported by federal, state and county funding, private grants and donations, and fees. For more information about joining 4-H, contact your Iowa State University Extension county office at or visit


Photos (hosted on Flickr)

Senior, first placeBake to Beat: Cy Gushiken, Andrew Ungs, Rachel Morgan, Jocelyn Beaver, Shelby Vansteenwyk, Margie Hawks and Laura Kuennen

Senior, second placeChopping Trio: Cy Gushiken, Andrew Ungs, Jenny Adrian, Luke Oberbroecking, Carrie Adrian, Margie Hawks and Laura Kuennen 

Intermediate, first placeTriple B Country Cooks: Laura Kuennen, Cy Gushiken, Maree Bean, Attylissa Bailey, 2011 Iowa State Fair Queen Paris Schnepf, Sylvia Bain, Scott Hoffman and Lois Carlburg

Intermediate, second placeCute & Culinary: Laura Kuennen, Cy Gushiken, Cali Westergard, 2011 Iowa State Fair Queen Paris Schnepf, Rachel Wedemeyer, Scott Hoffman and Lois Carlburg.  

Junior, first placeEarly Achievers: Margie Hawks, Cy Gushiken, Jack Mentzer, Kallie Goettsch, Megan Drey, Megan Thompson and Liz Meimann 

Junior, second placeKitchen Fanatics: Margie Hawks, Cy Gushiken, Scott Star, Nolan King, Amanda Riley, Megan Thompson and Liz Meimann