NEWS RELEASES 2018-19 :: MAY 21, 2019


A student culinary team from Apex High in Wake County won first place in the Southeast Jr. Chef Competition earlier this month for their grilled chicken street tacos with mango salsa, seasoned black beans and cilantro lime rice. The team of two students, Amanda Marrott and Alyssa Townsend, represented North Carolina in the second annual regional competition held May 9-10 at Sullivan University in Kentucky.

The Wake County team outcooked seven other student culinary teams last month to win the North Carolina Jr. Chef Competition and advance to the Southeast regional contest.

“Although it was a lot of recipe testing, taste revisions, nutrition modifications, and hard work, the best part was being able to see our growth along the way. We had a goal, worked hard, and achieved it,” said Marrott.  

Teams from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi and North Carolina competed in the Southeast Jr. Chef Competition. Harlan County High from Baxter, Kentucky, won second place with their taco Pop-Tart. A team from Putnam Charter School in Eatonton, Georgia, won third place with their honey chipotle chicken tacos with mango salsa and cilantro lime crema. Sullivan University in Kentucky awarded students from the top three finishing teams with scholarships. Members of the first- and second-place teams were offered full scholarships, and members of the third-place team were offered partial scholarships to attend the university.

“These kids proved that school lunches can be colorful, nutritious, and taste amazing,” said Erica Hoskins, Family and Consumer Sciences teacher for the Apex High team.  “I loved this competition because it took me as a culinary instructor out of my comfort zone with teaching the classics and pushed me to understand and appreciate school nutrition. I enjoyed showing them that they can combine their love of food with so many different careers.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) launched the Southeast Jr. Chef Competition and challenged each of the states in the Southeast to identify a team of students to represent their state at the competition. Students were challenged to work with their local School Nutrition Programs to develop a school lunch entrée recipe to adhere to national nutrition standards, include at least two ingredients grown in their state and one USDA Foods item, and appeal to student taste preferences. For the Southeast Jr. Chef Competition, teams had 90 minutes to prepare their dish and two minutes to present their recipe and student taste-test results to judges.

While the Apex High team was cooking to first place in Kentucky, two of the finalist teams in the N.C. Jr. Chef Competition presented during the Thrive NC festival in Raleigh hosted by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina. Teams from Parkwood High in Union County and Hobbton High in Sampson County presented on stage among James Beard awardees and nominees Vivian Howard, Ashley Christensen, Cynthia Wong, Keith Rhodes, Meherwan Irani, and Cheetie Kumar along with several other local celebrity chefs. The students shared their experience with the Jr. Chef Competition and how they created their recipes. They also had the opportunity to meet and ask questions of the mentor chefs at the event. The Thrive NC festival showcased talented chefs and producers from across the state and was paired with a daylong summit that highlighted the need for healthy food access for all.

North Carolina students’ participation in the N.C. Jr. Chef Competition, Southeast Jr. Chef Competition and the Thrive NC Festival was made possible with generous support from sponsors including Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (Gold) and the Farm to School Coalition of NC (Platinum), Johnson & Wales University (Platinum), North Carolina Chapter of Les Dames d'Escoffier (Platinum), N.C. Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services Food Distribution Division (Silver), N.C. Farm Bureau (Silver), N.C. Farm to School Cooperative (Silver), Piedmont Food & Agriculture Processing Center (Silver), School Nutrition Association of North Carolina (Silver), Ingles (Bronze), N.C. Sweet Potato Commission (Bronze), Lowes Foods (Supporter), and Piggly Wiggly (Supporter). The N.C. Jr. Chef Competition is a partnership of the School Operations and Career and Technical Education divisions at NCDPI, the N.C. Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services Farm to School Program, N.C. FCCLA (Family, Career and Community Leaders of America) and the Farm to School Coalition of NC.

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

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
  • email.

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.