NEWS RELEASES 2017-18 :: March 22, 2018


High school students from across North Carolina are throwing their chef’s hats into the ring to spice up school lunch. Eight finalist teams from Career and Technical Education food, nutrition, and culinary arts programs will compete in a cook-off April 9 at Guilford Technical Community College as part of the first-ever North Carolina Jr. Chef Competition.

The students were challenged to work with their Family and Consumer Sciences teachers and School Nutrition directors to develop a creative recipe for a school lunch entrée that meets the National School Lunch Program nutrition standards, includes at least two North Carolina-grown products and one USDA Foods item, is replicable by School Nutrition Programs, and meets student taste-test preferences. Based on a review of all applications and recipes submitted, the following teams were selected to compete in the cook-off phase of the competition:

  • Ashe County High School (Ashe County Schools)
  • Clyde A. Erwin High School (Buncombe County Schools)
  • West Carteret High School (Carteret County Schools)
  • East Mecklenburg High School (Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools)
  • East Gaston High School (Gaston County Schools)
  • Hunter Huss High School (Gaston County Schools)
  • Topsail High School (Pender County Schools)
  • Parkwood High School (Union County Public Schools)

During the cook-off, the teams must prepare, cook and present their recipes for a panel of judges, who will select first-, second- and third-place teams. The three top teams will be recognized April 9 during the opening session of the state conference of the North Carolina Family, Career and Community Leaders of America, a chapter of the national FCCLA. The first-place team will advance to the Southeast Jr. Chef Competition May 9-10 at Sullivan University in Kentucky.

As awards, Sullivan is offering the following scholarships to attend their university to each student team member:

  • N.C. Jr. Chef Competition: 1st place - $16,000, 2nd place - $10,000, 3rd place - $6,000
  • Southeast Jr. Chef Competition: 1st place - full tuition and fees (value of $45,000 - $55,000 each), 2nd place - tuition (value of $47,000 each), 3rd place - $20,000 scholarship

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) launched the Southeast Jr. Chef Competition and challenged each of the eight states in the Southeast region to identify a team for the Southeast Jr. Chef Competition. The N.C. Jr. Chef Competition was planned by the School Nutrition Services Section and Career and Technical Education Division at the Department of Public Instruction in partnership with the N.C. Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services Farm to School Program, North Carolina Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (NC FCCLA) and the Farm to School Coalition of North Carolina.

The Junior Chef Competition was created to inspire the next generation of culinary professionals, stimulate interest in locally produced agriculture, increase participation in School Nutrition Programs, provide nutrition education, and encourage healthy eating habits. Additionally, this competition will recognize students for their ability to work as members of a team to demonstrate valuable skills in recipe development, food preparation, marketing, public presentation, organization, and local food systems.

Through a grant from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, finalist teams will receive support for travel to the North Carolina Jr. Chef Competition, registration for the NC FCCLA State Conference, ingredients, chef’s hats and coats, and certificates. In addition, the winning team will receive a trophy for display at their school until the next N.C. Jr. Chef Competition. The North Carolina chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier is hosting a fundraiser April 12 to help the state’s first place team travel to Kentucky for the Southeast Regional Jr. Chef Competition.

USDA and NCDPI are equal opportunity providers and employers. Additional information about the North Carolina Jr. Chef Competition is available online. More information regarding School Nutrition Programs in North Carolina can be found on the School Nutrition Services website.

In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA.

Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g. Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.) should contact the agency (state or local) where they applied for benefits. Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339. Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English.

To file a program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form (AD-3027) available online and at any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by:

*mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, D.C. 20250-9410;
*fax: (202) 690-7442; or

About the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction:
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to 115 local public school districts and 160 charter schools serving over 1.5 million students in kindergarten through high school graduation. The agency is responsible for all aspects of the state's public school system and works under the direction of the North Carolina State Board of Education.

For more information:
NCDPI Communication and Information Division, 919.807.3450.