Cooking competition calls for creativity

Issue: Volume 97, Number 15

Posted: 27 August 2018
Reference #: 1H9kDA

A nationwide cooking competition aims to get students to use seasonal and local produce, reduce waste and learn skills to last a lifetime.

From root to tip 

Twenty Year 5 and 6 students from around the country turned up the heat as they competed in the Root to Tip Cooking Competition finals, held in Wellington recently.

Working in teams of two, students were required to design and create a two-course meal using only seasonal ingredients from their region of New Zealand. In addition, they were also required to use as much of each fruit and vegetable as possible, with any leftover edible waste weighed at the end.

Run by Garden to Table, the competition aims to encourage students to grow, cook and eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, while also reducing the amount of food thrown away.

Executive Officer Linda Taylor says students needed to be innovative to use the parts of fruit and vegetables which they might normally throw away.

“We have things like the bottom of spring onion roots, which normally you chop off and throw in the bin; they’ve been deep frying them and using them as crispy noodles on top of dishes so very, very creative aspects,” Linda says.

“We have teams from Northland through to Southland, so they get to understand that seasonality is different across New Zealand. What might be seasonal in Northland often isn’t seasonal in Southland.”

By requiring students to write their own menus and use measuring skills, the tasks also link to the literacy and mathematics components of the curriculum. The competition also helps students develop skills they can use for the rest of their lives.

“We also know that growing and cooking skills are becoming a lost art amongst a number of families,” she says.

“We want to get them cooking and growing and understanding about seasonal fresh vegetables.”

A judge’s words

Speaking to the students after the competition, Celebrity Chef and Root to Tip Judge Al Brown described the students’ work as “absolutely, simply extraordinary” and said the dishes created were a tribute to their efforts.

“You showed today that you have a great understanding of cooking, your skills in the kitchen, your knife skills,” he said.

“You’ve just got to keep going and doing what you’re doing. That’s the thing about cooking, it’s all about sharing; you have some good days in the kitchen and some other days that aren’t so good, but today we were treated to some absolutely delicious food.

“You guys know a lot about food, you know a lot about cooking and we’ve got to spread the word – no processed food! We’re into growing, we’re into cooking, we’re into sharing and you guys are leading the way.”

Why is food waste a big deal?

“In New Zealand we throw away 20 million loaves of bread annually. It’s the most thrown away product in New Zealand,” says Emma McGregor, Year 6, Pukerau School.

“Our waste is thrown away with normal rubbish, it gets buried underground and it decomposes and when that happens without oxygen it all goes yuck.

“Sam and I decided to enter the competition because that would help our families and schools and our communities to start encouraging them to stop making too much waste.”

According to Love Food Hate Waste NZ, Kiwis waste $872 million a year on food that is bought and thrown away uneaten. Kiwi households throw away 79kg of edible food each year – this is equivalent in weight to eight sacks of potatoes.

Food waste ends up in the tip. When it decomposes without oxygen in the landfill it releases methane, which is a harmful greenhouse gas. New Zealand’s yearly food waste produces 325,975 tonnes of carbon emissions. To offset this we would need to take 118,107 cars off the road for one year or plant 130,390 trees.

The winning dish by Holly Patterson and Madyson Picard from Parua Bay School – a vege patch burger with ribbon fries and sweet and spiced apple delight.

“There’s lots of orchards surrounding us in Bay of Plenty/Tauranga, so avocados, mandarins and kiwifruit were sort of our base and that’s how we came up with our dessert and our main.”

Elēa Hargreaves, Year 6, Omokoroa No.1 School

“We improved our knife skills. If you don’t hold your knife properly then you can’t cut or you might chop your fingers off.”

Chloé Davies, Year 5, Omokoroa No.1 School

“I found it hard to keep it at the right temperature.”

“It’s cool to have Al Brown around and learn tips from him. He helped me make my crepes.”

Thomas Booth, Year 5, Newlands Primary School

“Last time I burnt the crumb for my dish and we had to start again with only 10 minutes to spare.”

“We did a lot of practice before today and we found out that we do the crumb for five minutes and the apples for 35.”

Charlotte Bootsma, Year 6, Newlands Primary School

“We had a little incident where the potatoes were in the oven but we didn’t realise that the oven was turned off so we had to microwave them at the last minute.”

Emma McGregor, Year 6, Pukerau School

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 8:47 am, 27 August 2018

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