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

AMES, Iowa – Youth from across Iowa showcased their culinary skill this past weekend at the Iowa State Fair. The third annual “Cook This!” culinary challenge was held in the 4-H Exhibits building. “With a great turn out and a large amount of participation, this summer’s contest was a success,” said Steph Ferguson, special events coordinator with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach 4-H Youth Development.

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, kitchen equipment, communicating a food related topic and team work. The three age groups were each assigned recipes prior to the competition.

Cook This featured celebrity judges, including “That Guy Cy” Cy Gushiken, owner of Ohana Steakhouse and Cosi Cucina restaurants in Des Moines. Karen Hayes, formally known as the “Iowa Egg Lady” for 25 years, was also present for all days of the competition.

Junior Level

The junior level consisted of fifth and sixth grade students. Ten teams participated, with top honors going to Anna Plathe, Jessica Kratz and Lauren Sobaski from Woodbury County. Second place winners were the Kitchen Kiddos, Lydia Denniston, Lizzy DeJong and Sydney Katko from Mahaska County. Photos can be viewed on the 4-H Flickr site.

Intermediate Level

Seventh and eighth grade students made up the intermediate level. Six teams competed in this division. Top honors were received by team Kitchen Heat, Hannah McCoy, Leonora James and Lucas Henkelman. Second place was taken by the Three Anaheims, Landra Reece, Matthew Kordick and Jonathaon Haugland. Photos can be viewed on the 4-H Flickr site

Senior Level

The final day of the competition four teams of all high school grades, ninth through 12th competed against each other. First place finishers in the senior level were the Kickin Kountry Kooks, made up of Rachel Haugland, Kenton Reece and Rebecca Haugland. Finishing in second place were the Grandkids, Sandra Blom and Lexi Randau. Photos can be viewed on the 4-H Flickr site.

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

The Kickin Kountry Kooks, the top-placing senior level team, will have the opportunity to have their recipes tested in the Better Homes and Gardens Test Kitchen and be 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, Ferguson added.

Sponsors for the 2012 Cook This Challenge include Iowa Turkey Federation, Iowa Beef Industry Council, Iowa Pork Producers Association, Dahl’s, Successful Farming Magazine, Better Homes and Gardens Test Kitchen, Iowa 4-H Foundation, ISU Extension and Outreach, ISU College of Human Sciences and College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Iowa Egg Council and Cookies.


[PHOTO] Junior winners

[PHOTO] Intermediate winners

[PHOTO] Senior winners