Jr Iron Chef VT: A Recipe for Empowering Youth since 2008. Image of colorful hands holding utensils.
Jr Iron Chef VT - 3/9/24 - Champlain Valley Exposition. Image of young girls holding hands with looks of excitement.
Jr Iron Chef VT - 3/9/24 - Champlain Valley Exposition. Image of young girls holding hands with looks of excitement.

Early Bird Registration is now open for the 16th Annual Jr Iron Chef VT!

2024 Event Info

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The 2024 Jr Iron Chef VT competition will be held March 9, 2024 at the Champlain Valley Exposition Blue Pavilion, at 105 Pearl Street in Essex Junction.

  • 11-8-23: Early Bird registration opens ($140/team).
  • 12-15-23: Regular registration opens, early bird closes
  • 01-26-24: Regular registration closes ($160/team)
  • 02-15-24: Recipe, Lively Local (if applicable), Team Name, Team Members, Parent Permission submission deadline
  • 03-9-24: Jr Iron Chef VT competition!
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The Champlain Valley Exposition
105 Pearl Street
Essex Junction, Vermont 05452

Event Schedule
8:45 AM: Team set up begins
9:00 AM: Doors open to public
9:30–11:00 AM: 
Morning heat competition
11:45–12:15PM: Morning heat awards
12:15 PM: Team set up begins
1:00–2:30 PM: 
Afternoon heat competition
3:15–3:45 PM: Afternoon heat awards

Concession Stand
Watching a cooking competition is bound to make you hungry! Visit the concession stand to purchase breakfast, lunch, and snack items from our friends at the Mill Market & Deli.

Activity Room

50/50 Raffle (Vermont Afterschool)
Photo Booth (802 Event Group)
Taste Tests (Shelburne Farms & VT FEED)
Crepe Spinning (Skinny Pancake)
Battle of the Senses (Vermont Afterschool)
Smoothie Bike (City Market)
Seed Planting (Vermont Garden Network)

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We continue to work with the Vermont Department of Health concerning COVID-19 in our community as we get close to our in-person event.

  • Masks are optional and we respect those who choose to wear a mask. We encourage you to wear a mask if you are immuno-compromised, have a high-risk loved one, or if you just like how you look in a mask. We also reserve the right to change this policy as needed as we approach the event.
  • We will provide all team members with non-latex gloves to prepare food.
  • Following CDC guidelines, people may not attend if they are feeling ill, have currently tested positive for COVID-19, are waiting for COVID-19 test results, have COVID-19 symptoms, or have had close contact with a person who has tested positive for or who has symptoms of COVID-19. If you have recently had COVID, we ask that you have two negative antigen tests 24 hours apart, prior to the event.
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The following honors will be given in the Morning and Afternoon Award Ceremonies for each age category:

  • CROWD-PLEASER — This award goes to the team that best incorporates color, texture, and taste for a true crowd-pleaser.
  • LIVELY LOCAL — This award goes to the team that best highlights Vermont foods.
  • MISE EN PLACE — (“Everything in its place”) This award goes to the team that shows exemplary teamwork, order, and professionalism.

Judging Criteria

  • EXECUTION — Clean and presentable uniforms including hard-soled shoes, hats, aprons, and safe food handling practices.
  • TEAMWORK — Evenly distributed workload, team cohesiveness & communication.
  • TASTE — Subjective category based on judge’s expertise.
  • CREATIVITY — Ingenuity of the ingredients used, creative use of ingredients.
  • LOCAL — Recipe highlights local, seasonal products (only for the Lively Local Award).
  • COMPLIANCE — Meets all Jr. Iron Chef VT Guidelines and Rules.

Each year, we are fortunate to have volunteer judges from around Vermont that have a wide range of culinary and food expertise.

2024 Judges

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During the event weekend of the event, dozens of volunteers help with set-up, team registration, activities, and clean-up. Volunteers receive free admission to the Jr Iron Chef VT competition.

If you have any questions or are interested in volunteering, please contact Jr Iron Chef VT Coordinator Kerrie Mathes.

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To ensure that Jr Iron Chef VT remains accessible to all Vermont students through team scholarships and registration fees lowered to one-third the true cost of the event, Vermont Afterschool relies on the generous support of our sponsors as well as a suggested admissions fee of $3 per person and $5 per family (paid at the door).

If you have any questions about the event, please contact Jr Iron Chef VT Coordinator Kerrie Mathes.

Your Support Makes Jr Iron Chef VT Possible.

Vermont Afterschool, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, and contributions are tax deductible. Your gift supports our efforts to increase the quality of and access to afterschool and summer programs in Vermont, as well as to empower youth.

2024 Jr Iron Chef VT is Made Possible by Generous Support from:

executive Chefs

Chef de Cuisine

Sous Chefs

Lenny’s Shoe and Apparel

American Flatbread Burlington Hearth

The Windjammer


Jr Iron Chef VT is a career exploration program and competition that teaches communication, teamwork, and problem-solving skills by empowering Vermont youth to create locally sourced meals that promote Vermont’s Farm to School efforts.

“Because of Jr Iron Chef, I know how to be a good leader.”

Jr Iron Chef VT launched in 2008 as a collaborative effort between two leaders in the Farm to School movement, the Burlington School Food Project and Vermont FEED. In 2022, Vermont Afterschool assumed management of the program and competition.

In 2023, we celebrated our 15th year and the more than 5,000 Vermont middle and high school students who have participated in this groundbreaking culinary program. Not only have students learned how to create and prepare recipes from scratch, they’ve also learned about local agriculture and nutrition while establishing relationships with peers, chefs, mentors, and local farmers. They’ve developed confidence and learned teamwork, leadership, and communication skills. Perhaps the best thing of all about Jr. Iron Chef VT is how it unifies people. Regardless of other differences, these Vermont youth stand side-by-side for one day in March and participate in an orchestrated frenzy – dicing, grating, and sautéing their way to culinary fame.

School food change takes many players—students, food service, parents, and the community. Jr Iron Chef VT involves all of these players to create a vibrant, fun, and wildly popular event!

Preparations are well underway for the next Jr Iron Chef VT competition. In some districts, Jr Iron Chef VT has become so popular that qualifying competitions are held in the fall to determine who will be among the almost 300 students on the 70 teams participating in our statewide event. Our organizing committee is busy reaching out to new schools, selecting judges, and brainstorming the next great event. We are soliciting financial support to help us usher Jr Iron Chef VT into its second decade. 

If you have any questions about the event, please contact Jr Iron Chef VT Coordinator Kerrie Mathes.



For more photos and a list of winners and recipes from previous years, visit our please visit our Jr Iron Chef VT archive.