2022 Jr. Iron Chef VT!

congratulations to all of the 2022 Jr. Iron Chef VT teams and thank you for a great competition!

Event Info

  • 11-16-21: Early Bird registration opens ($130/team)
  • 12-17-21: Regular registration opens, early bird closes ($150/team)
  • 02-04-22: Registration closes
  • 02-17-22: Recipe, Team Member Parent Permission submission deadline
  • 03-06-22: Lively Local (if applicable) submission deadline
The 2022 Jr. Iron Chef VT competition will be held April 2 at the Champlain Valley Exposition Blue Pavilion, at 105 Pearl Street in Essex Junction.

Our event will look a bit different this year as safety is a top priority:

  • There will be NO public spectators for the event this year. Each team member is allowed to bring one family member/guest only to the event, free admission.
  • Each team spectator group will have its own table to watch the event.
  • There will be no concessions this year. Please click here for a list of nearby restaurants.
  • The schedule of the day has been adjusted to ensure the morning heat teams, and the afternoon heat teams are not in the building at the same time.
  • There will be a Jr. Iron Chef VT merchandise table.

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.

  • For everyone’s safety, we require everyone in attendance to wear a mask. We will provide KN95 masks (or similar) for all participants and attendees. Coaches are asked to email jrironchefvt@nullvermontafterschool.org to tell us the number of kid/adult-sized masks needed for your team, including all participants and the coach.
  • We will provide all team members with non-latex gloves to prepare food.
  • We urge everyone to have their up-to-date COVID-19 vaccination or a negative COVID-19 PCR test 72 hours before attending the event.
  • We ask that every participant and attendee take a rapid antigen test on the morning of the event. Please reach out to your school/organization to request tests for your team. Here are links that provide free state-sponsored antigen tests and free federal-sponsored tests by mail (7-14 days, plan ahead).
  • Following CDC guidelines, people may not attend if they 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.

Awards

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.

This Year’s Judges

SARAH HEUSNER (Judge Room Captain) is the food education and programs manager for the Burlington School Food Project. In this ever-evolving role, Sarah helps district students develop healthy and wholesome relationships with their lunch trays. She oversees Farm-to-School initiatives for the district, working collaboratively with schools and the broader community to develop innovative food ventures. In addition, Sarah procures local ingredients for Burlington School District’s nine cafeterias, acts as steward to the district’s two large-scale gardens, and manages the Fork in the Road student-run food truck with infectious energy and inspiration.
RIC CINGERI (Head Judge, MC) currently hosts Vermont Viewpoint on WDEV radio in Waterbury, weekday mornings from 9-11. On the show, he highlights many of the things that make Vermont unique and special, while also speaking with lawmakers, newsmakers, and members of state and local government. Ric aims to highlight the many wonderful places to visit in the state, the people who have accomplished something amazing or interesting, and companies that are adding to the state’s economy by doing something meaningful and creative. Having successfully visited every city and town in the state as a member of the Vermont 251 Club, Ric can usually guide you to a great place to eat in any part of the state. Before working at WDEV, he spent 12 years as producer of Vermont Edition at VPR and 3 years as host of the morning show at The Point. In addition to being willing to try any food and loving most, Ric is an expert in polo, lower division Scottish soccer, and Scottish indie bands. Ric is a two time judge of Jr iron Chef VT.
TOR DWORSHAK is a former line cook at a number of Burlington restaurants, including Guild Tavern, Pascolo, and The Great Northern. He’s now in digital marketing and sales at a building tech startup located in Burlington. Having been a contestant at the inaugural Jr Iron Chef VT competition in 2008 and a team mentor in 2018-2020, Tor is excited to complete the Jr Iron Chef trifecta and experience the event through the lens of being a judge.
HARMONY EDOSOMWAN is a multifaceted Nigerian-American entrepreneur, author, activist, chef, and small business owner. Edosomwan was born and raised in Bronx, NY to two Nigerian immigrants. As a Bronx native, Edosomwan was encompassed by different foods and cultures, all of which inspire her business and love for food today. A recent graduate of the University of Vermont, Edosomwan currently runs Harmony’s Kitchen LLC, a soul food catering business. She recently started a new self defense business, that aims to empower marginalized identity groups through self-advocacy and protection. Edosomwan hopes to keep expanding her businesses, grow her food blog, travel more, and continue to work on her second poetry book.
CHRISTIAN KRUSE attended New England Culinary Institute and has spent most of his professional career working in Vermont kitchens. In 2016, he was named VT Chef of the Year and also honored by an invitation to cook at the James Beard House in NYC. He was just selected as 1 of 20 semifinalists for the 2022 James Beard Awards in the category of Best Chef Northeast. He has led several past Jr. Iron Chef VT teams and is thrilled to be a judge for the 2022 competition. Sharing his passion for cooking and mentoring youth is important to Chef Kruse. “We need to foster the excitement and joy that children find in cooking. Creating flavors and plating a beautiful dish is an accomplishment that we need to encourage and foster. Feeding people great food is a very satisfying craft.”
AZIZA MALIK is a fifth grade teacher at Champlain Elementary School in Burlington. Aziza was just announced as 2022 UVM Outstanding Teacher of the Year. Before teaching, she worked for several local Vermont businesses, nonprofits, and educational organizations including Shelburne Farms, the Intervale Center, Winooski Valley Park District, Radio Bean, City Market, the Sustainability Academy, and the Integrated Arts Academy. Her work even included being a coach of the grand-prize-winning team of the inaugural Jr. Iron Chef VT competition! Aziza brings these experiences into her classroom, regularly partnering with community members and local institutions to connect her curriculum to real life. Aziza continues to work to create policies, practices, and curriculum that are more inclusive of Burlington’s diverse community.
NICCI MICCO is a former health journalist and content creator who has spent much of her career writing about food—most notably for EatingWell, where she worked as an editor (and ate lots of test kitchen meals!) for more than more than 10 years. Her relationship with food is both art and science—she loves the creative aspects of cooking (and serving!) and has a master’s degree in nutrition. When Nicci isn’t making and sharing food, she works at Mamava, the creator of freestanding lactation spaces, tries to keep up with her t(w)eenangers on a snowboard, teaches yoga, and hangs out with her family’s dog, two cats, and two guinea pigs.
RYAN MILLER is the lead singer of the band Guster, writer, television host, film composer, bon vivant and Xiao Long Boa aficionado. He is also handsome in low light.
ADAM MONETTE is currently the chef instructor at the Northwest Career and Technical Center in Saint Albans. He’s no stranger to culinary competitions, most recently winning the Food Network’s Holiday Baking Championship. Over the years, Adam has had the opportunity to train and work with students for Jr. Iron Chef VT, as well as Skills USA to support their growth and potential.
AMANDA ROHDENBURG (she/her pronouns) loves food! Making it, eating it, hearing all about it. One of her favorite books is called the Search for Delicious (the title is basically the story of her life). Amanda earned a BA in Gender Studies and Political Science from Saint Michael’s College and has worked as an advocate for healthy relationships, equity, and consent since 2012. As associate director for Outright Vermont, Amanda works with youth, communities, and systems to help build hope, equity, and power for LGBTQ youth.

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.

Team Info

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

Any Vermont student in grades 6­–12 is eligible. Teams are broken down into Middle School (grades 6–8) and High School (9–12) categories. Due to K–6 schools, some middle schools may ask for some, but not all 5th grade team members. Each team must have between 3 and 5 members from any grade level in the appropriate category. Teams may have an alternate student, but the total number of team members on the day of the competition may not exceed 5.
All entries will be judged by the following criteria:
  • EXECUTION — clean and presentable uniforms including hard-soled shoes, hats, aprons, and safe food handling practices
  • TEAMWORK — evenly distributed workload, team cohesiveness, and communication
  • TASTE — a 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
The registration fee offsets the costs associated with running Jr. Iron Chef VT, including event rentals, printing, and staff time to coordinate the event. Teams fund their registration and practice expenses in a variety of creative ways. Sponsorships from small businesses, incorporation into after school programs, healthy bake sales, and PTO donations help teams across the state raise their Jr. Iron Chef VT expenses. Please be in touch if you need help or ideas to fund your team!
On November 16, 2021, registrations will be accepted on a first come first serve basis until 70 teams are reached. Additional applications will be put on a waiting list in the order they were received.

Including a professional chef on your team can help in a lot of ways. First, your chef probably has some great ideas for recipes using local ingredients, plus s/he can help you make sure your dishes come out just like you hope. Also, getting to know a chef can be a fun way to connect with a local restaurant. So, where can you find a chef to join your team?

Think about what your favorite restaurants are; do they have a chef who could help? If you don’t have a favorite restaurant, you might find a restaurant that is a member of the Vermont Fresh Network (VFN). To be part of the Vermont Fresh Network, chefs promise to buy ingredients from local farmers. That is a bonus to your team since these are chefs already committed to using local ingredients. You can also consider asking one of the cooks from your school cafeteria if they could help you. They know a lot about cooking food that kids love and might have some secret recipes that are sure to win the competition. Once you have found chefs that you are interested in, you should write them a letter or call them on the phone to explain what Jr. Iron Chef VT is and why you want their help. If you are calling, avoid calling right at lunch or dinner time when the chefs are super busy.

No, team coaches are allowed to provide hands-off guidance and advice only.
Recipes are reviewed by members of the Jr. Iron Chef VT Planning Committee to ensure they comply with Jr. Iron Chef VT guidelines. Feedback and suggestions are given freely.

Congratulations to the 2022 Jr. Iron Chef VT award-winning teams:

High School

Lively Local
Team: Turnip the heat and get with the Beat
School: Burlington High school/Tech center
Recipe: Vermont Global Fusion

Crowd Pleaser
Team: CVU Chefhawks #1
School: Champlain Valley Union High
Recipe: Everything but the Garden Bed

Mise en Place
Team: The Smoke Daddies
School: Bellows Falls High School
Recipe: Portobello Katsu, Sweet Potato Curry, Coconut Rice

Middle School

Lively Local
Team: Milton Team Cuisine
School: Milton Town School District
Recipe: Veggie Sliders on Polenta w/ Maple Dijon Sauce

Crowd Pleaser
Team: Whisks and Rewards
School: Hunt Middle School
Recipe: Green Mountains Meet the Mediterranean

Mise en Place
Team: The Starry Knives
School: Lake Champlain Waldorf School
Recipe: Breakfast Crepes with Eggs, Spinach, and Cheddar

Stay tuned for a list of winning teams from previous years.

Sponsor Info

Over the past 12 years, nearly 4,500 Vermont middle and high school students have participated in this ground-breaking culinary competition. Along the way they’ve not only created and prepared recipes from scratch, they’ve learned about local agriculture and nutrition, established relationships with peers, chefs, and local farmers, developed confidence, and honed teamwork, leadership, and communication skills. Perhaps the best thing of all about Jr. Iron Chef VT is how it unifies people. Wealthy or income-limited, native or immigrant, athlete or thespian, for one day in March, these Vermont youth stand side-by-side and participate in an orchestrated frenzy—dicing, grating, and sautéing their way to culinary fame. Jr. Iron Chef VT is changing lives, one student at a time, as reflected by this coach:
Everywhere my students turn they’re being tempted to distract themselves, hate themselves, and tune out. To empower them, I need an arena in which I can coach them in taking healthy risks. Jr. Iron Chef VT allows my kids the opportunity to tune into their strengths, their culture, their choices.  I take kids to the competition who don’t excel in the classroom—some of them have multiple detentions a week—and sure enough, they are fabulous, dedicated chefs. They don’t have the opportunities or resources that other kids have, and while that presents very real challenges in their lives, it doesn’t need to define their potential. Megan Stotko, Albany Wolf Pack Coach
Preparations are well underway: 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-plus teams participating in our statewide event. Our organizing committee is busy reaching out to new schools, selecting judges, and brainstorming an epic birthday celebration. We are soliciting financial support to help us usher Jr. Iron Chef VT into its second decade. Our cost for hosting one team is $500. If the registration fee accurately reflected this cost, most teams would not be able to participate. Instead we charge between $130 to $150, offer scholarships, and subsidize the remainder with the generous support of our sponsors, keeping Jr. Iron Chef VT accessible to all. Please join us in changing the lives of young Vermonters by supporting Jr. Iron Chef VT today. Thank you!

After donating, please email Kerrie Matthes to ensure your name is listed on our website and in the event program.

Stay tuned for a list of 2022 Jr. Iron Chef VT sponsors.

About

Jr. Iron Chef VT is a premiere statewide culinary competition organized by Vermont Afterschool and Vermont FEED (Food Education Everyday) for teams of Vermont students who create healthy dishes with local and seasonal foods that inspire their school meal programs as part of the Farm to School efforts in Vermont.


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


Since 2008, nearly 5,000 Vermont middle and high school students have participated in Jr. Iron Chef VT. Along the way, they’ve not only created and prepared recipes from scratch, they’ve learned about local agriculture and nutrition, established relationships with peers, chefs, and local farmers, developed confidence, and honed teamwork, leadership, and communication skills.

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!


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