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updated: 3/15/2014 3:26 PM

U-46 students take on 'Chopped' style cooking competition

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  • Reyna Soto, 12, left, and Alex Wirsing, 13, decorate snack cups while teammate Alex Kunicki, 13, chops more fruit for the Larsen Middle School team at the "Junior Chopped: A Middle School Cooking Competition" Saturday at South Elgin High School. All three are from Elgin.

       Reyna Soto, 12, left, and Alex Wirsing, 13, decorate snack cups while teammate Alex Kunicki, 13, chops more fruit for the Larsen Middle School team at the "Junior Chopped: A Middle School Cooking Competition" Saturday at South Elgin High School. All three are from Elgin.
    Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

  • Teams of students from seven middle schools in Elgin Area School District U-46 gather around the judges to see who was eliminated after the second of four rounds in the "Junior Chopped: A Middle School Cooking Competition" Saturday at South Elgin High School.

       Teams of students from seven middle schools in Elgin Area School District U-46 gather around the judges to see who was eliminated after the second of four rounds in the "Junior Chopped: A Middle School Cooking Competition" Saturday at South Elgin High School.
    Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

  • Emma Miller, 13, of team "Fire and Ice" from Kenyon Woods Middle School, left, puts her arm around friend and fellow competitor Lauren Henderson, 14, of "Team Royals" from Kimball Middle School, as they await judges' reactions to the food at the "Junior Chopped: A Middle School Cooking Competition" Saturday. Both are from Elgin.

       Emma Miller, 13, of team "Fire and Ice" from Kenyon Woods Middle School, left, puts her arm around friend and fellow competitor Lauren Henderson, 14, of "Team Royals" from Kimball Middle School, as they await judges' reactions to the food at the "Junior Chopped: A Middle School Cooking Competition" Saturday. Both are from Elgin.
    Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

  • Gibson's Chef Randy Waidner, far right, and fellow judges sample food at the Elgin Area School District U-46 "Junior Chopped: A Middle School Cooking Competition" Saturday at South Elgin High School. Other judges were Chef Bob Janz of Michael's and Associates, left, and Elgin High School freshman Travis Paquin, 16.

       Gibson's Chef Randy Waidner, far right, and fellow judges sample food at the Elgin Area School District U-46 "Junior Chopped: A Middle School Cooking Competition" Saturday at South Elgin High School. Other judges were Chef Bob Janz of Michael's and Associates, left, and Elgin High School freshman Travis Paquin, 16.
    Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

 
 

Students from seven middle schools in Elgin Area School District U-46 competed to be top chefs in the "Junior Chopped: A Middle School Cooking Competition" held Saturday at South Elgin High School.

The competition, which is a takeoff on the Food Network show "Chopped," consisted of four rounds. Students were given 20 minutes to prepare a dish which had to contain, but was not limited to, surprise ingredients presented at the start of each round.

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No eliminations were made in round one, a sort of warm-up round, which featured appetizers. The following rounds featured a snack, a breakfast dish and lunch.

The majority of students were first-time contestants, but the Kenyon Woods Middle School team "Fire and Ice" sported a veteran trio of Emma Miller, 13, of Elgin, Laurel Karis, 14, of South Elgin and Madelyn Dux, 13, of Bartlett.

"I really think we are a lot more prepared this year and I think we're going to do great," Emma said.

The newcomers on the Larsen Middle School team "Larsen Chefs" shared a mix of nervousness, excitement and confidence, but all were proud of how their team was doing and the dishes they had presented halfway through the event.

One of the three judges, Travis Paquin, 16, of Elgin High School, is a chef at the school's student-run restaurant called "The Clumsy Chef Cafe."

"I'm very proud of these kids and I hope they really keep it up," he said. "Once you get in the high school level, you start running actual restaurants … It's really fun and you get that real-life experience."

First place went to Tefft Middle School, second place to Kenyon Woods Middle School and third to Abbot Middle School.

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