Lunch reaches a whole new level of competition |

Lunch reaches a whole new level of competition

Jarid Shipley
Appeal Staff Writer
Reese Michael, 7, from left, Kaitlin Duarte, 6; Hannah Harris, 7; and Taylor Furr, 6, all of Dayton, listen to results in the Kids Iron Chef contest.

Friday’s activity at the Dayton Valley Learning Center was designed to promote teamwork, sportsmanship and measuring abilities in the 20 students participating.

The biggest impact wasn’t on their brains, but their stomachs.

The lunchroom area was transformed into Kitchen Stadium as two teams of children competed for the honor of being Iron Chef.

“We like to watch Food Network and thought it would be fun to do ‘Iron Chef,'” teacher Debbie Campbell said. “We chose to do baked potatoes and dessert.”

The two teams worked to create their concoctions, which were then judged by a panel to determine the winner. After nearly an hour of work, the contest was declared a draw.

“It was a tie; we have no losers here,” Campbell said. “We want them to feel like they accomplished something and not discourage them.”

Team 1 made two potatoes, one topped with sautéed chicken, broccoli and cheese sauce, and the other topped with bacon, chili and cheese. The group finished with a dessert of no-bake chocolate cookies.

“I helped make the chicken stuff and the sauce. We had to put the stuff on the potato, and now I’m hungry for lunch,” said 6-year-old Kaitlin Duarte.

Team 2 made a potato topped with sour cream and cheese and a dessert of strawberry pastry cups.

“You use a graham cracker crust and add fresh strawberries and the glaze, then top it with Cool Whip. The kids enjoyed that,” teacher Sue Monge said.

Elora Neep, a shy 6-year-old, admitted that she snuck a taste of the dessert while she was helping make it.

“I liked it,” she said.

Immediately after the judging, the children used the leftover toppings to accessorize their own potatoes before chowing down.

The “Iron Chef” competition is not the only spoof of popular television shows by the center. Several weeks ago, the children took part in a mock “Fear Factor” and are scheduled to compete in “Deal or No Deal” before school starts.

“We wanted to try something different, and it worked out really well,” Monge said.

Campbell said, “The ‘Fear Factor’ was great. We made pasta worms with oil and food coloring. One of the boys just loved it; he ate the whole thing.”

The group also takes field trips to various places, including playgrounds and the Minden pool.

“The field trips, that’s my favorite. I like going to the pool,” Elora said.

• Contact reporter Jarid Shipley at or 881-1217.