FreshPicks Café Sponsoring Middle and High School Students at 8th Annual Vermont Junior Iron Chef Competition.

Get cooking! On Saturday, March 21, FreshPicks Café is sending four teams of middle and high school students from the Brattleboro, Vergennes and Windsor, Vermont school districts to compete in the state’s 8th annual Junior Iron Chef competition.

Under the guidance of FreshPicks Café food service directors and school coaches, the students are busy creating recipes to cook up during the competition. All teams will have just 90 minutes to prepare their kid-tested, local fare. To be eligible, all recipes must feature at least 5 local vegetables and meet USDA school nutrition standards. These rigorous guidelines give young contestants an appreciation of the real-life rewards and challenges of creating healthy, appealing meals for schools.

FreshPicks Café has been sending student competitors to the Vermont Junior Iron Chef competition for the past seven consecutive years. While choosing and creating recipes is all up to the kids, FreshPicks Café supports the teams by paying the admission fees, contributing t-shirts and hats for contestants’ uniforms, and providing culinary advice and feedback.

John Ayer, FreshPicks Café Food Service Director for the Brattleboro school district, says the competition reinforces his company’s mission to help kids develop healthy eating habits that support local communities. “Our goal is make kids more aware of where their food comes from and how their choices affect their health as well as their environment. Sponsoring teams for Junior Iron Chef is just one way we do it.”

Founded in 2008, the Vermont Junior Iron Chef event is one of the first youth culinary competitions to focus on local food and school meals. The winning teams will have the opportunity to prepare their recipes for legislators in the Vermont Statehouse later this spring. Their dishes will also be featured on school lunch menus, statewide.

Don’t miss student competitors sponsored by FreshPicks Café at the 2015 Vermont Junior Iron Chef competition, 9am to 3pm, March 21, at the Champlain Valley Exposition, Essex Junction, Vermont.