District 211 culinary students’ soup shines at hunger event

If this were really the gridiron, it would have been a touchdown for Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211 culinary students.

The students represented each of the district’s five high schools at a Souper Bowl fundraiser hosted by the Schaumburg A.M. Rotary Club Foundation — for the first time joining top area restaurants to dish out cups of homemade, steamy soups in a joint effort to fight local hunger.

Hoffman Estates High School culinary student Allexus Lau prepares samples of soup for attendees at a Rotary event aimed at fighting hunger. Courtesy of District 211

The students first competed against classmates to determine whose dish would make it to the event, and then came with six gallons each of their creative recipes to serve the crowd.

Their work impressed attendees and restaurant owners alike, who burst into applause when the schools and students were introduced at the event’s conclusion.

“We are so grateful to the Rotary for hosting us as part of this event,” said Michele Napier, District 211’s director of college and career readiness. “The dedication and talent of our students, teachers and department chairs was on full display, and it was a huge win for career and technical education. The skills we’re providing in classes like culinary arts, automotives, building construction and manufacturing will serve them long beyond their high school years.”

Event attendees were able to vote on the soups, with Palatine’s cream chicken wild rice recipe nabbing first place in the high school division, Conant’s cowboy soup taking second and Schaumburg’s roasted red pepper and tomato nabbing third. Hoffman Estates’ chicken tortilla and Fremd’s jambalaya put up tough competition, with many saying it was impossible to choose.

Proceeds from the event will support the Schaumburg Township Food Pantry and the District 54 Education Foundation’s Food 4 Thought Program, which provides food for students in need.

Napier promised the schools will be back for next year’s cook-off, which provided real-world learning for District 211 culinary students, some of whom will pursue the field professionally.

Hoffman Estates High School culinary student Alyssa Westry spoons soup into cups during an event that doubled as a contest and an opportunity to showcase real-world skills. Courtesy of District 211
Fremd High School culinary students Jaren Reyes, left, Kara Karlin and Kassie Torres talk with attendees at the Souper Bowl of Soups fundraiser. The students brought six gallons of a homemade special recipe to serve guests. Courtesy of District 211
Schaumburg High School student Zach Kaspari talks with patrons during a fundraising event that doubled as a District 211 soup-making contest. Courtesy of District 211
Conant High School culinary students Amber Bending, Duncan Whiteside and Liv Ward await the naming of the winner at a soup-based fundraising event. The group, standing in front of Hoffman Estates teachers Suzanne Citron, left, and Kate Giglio, were one of five District 211 teams — one from every school — at the event. Courtesy of District 211
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