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Teens compete to see who's top chef

By Shavonne Potts
spotts@salisburypost.com
On your mark. Get ready. Set. Cook. If you’ve watched the Bravo TV series Top Chef then you know there’s a race to see who will achieve culinary stardom.
Now mix in a group of teenagers with varying culinary skills, a $25 food budget and one hour to prepare a healthy meal and you have the Top Teen Chef Challenge.
The contest, which was offered through the Rowan County Youth Services Bureau, pitted two teams against each other for Top Chef status. Each team unknowingly had a spy in their midst. The teams also had one adult volunteer who drove the group to Food Lion at West Jake Alexander Boulevard for their shopping and guided them along the way.
The judges for this competition were Pastor Randy Foster of Maupin Avenue Presbyterian Church, Jackie Harris with the Rowan County United Way and the Rev. Albert Stout Jr.
The cooking competition was held in the kitchen of Maupin Avenue Presbyterian Church.
The Youth Services Bureau matches at-risk youth with community mentors. The youth participate in after school activities and other self-esteem building programs.
“The outcome regardless of the scores is that they will take what they learn and put it into practice in life,” said Program Director Liz Tennent.
Tennent said the activity combines life skills such as time management and conflict/resolution.
It also allows the teens to get outside of their comfort zones, she said.
The teens who participated don’t yet know the results and will see them here first. They are as follows:
– The team winner is The Fry Babies, who served a taco salad and added ice cream for dessert. The Fry Babies consisted of team adult volunteer Katie Arbogast, Otis Smith, Mary Margaret Mills (the spy), Seth Allen, Whitney Chilson, Shaina Savall and Wayland Pressley, who was the team’s sous chef.
The Fry Babies scored a total of 280 points out of 300 possible points. They came in under budget at $24.90.
The team received four bonus points for using a Food Lion MVP card and Harris Teeter VIC card. Also an added five points for including a dessert, which was not required.
The judges said they enjoyed the zesty flavor of the taco seasoning.
– The other team, Delicious, was not far behind with a total of 275 points out of a possible 300 points.
Delicious made corn, mashed potatoes and grilled chicken. They also added pineapple rings. The team consisted of adult volunteer Colleen Bruce, Chris Vera, Kimpton Langford (the spy), Valencia Gooden and Shelby Savall, who was the team’s sous chef.
Team Delicious spent a total of $18.56 from their budget and received three bonus points for using a Food Lion MVP card.
The judges said they enjoyed the meal, but suggested just a little more seasoning for the chicken.
According to the judges, both teams were on time, on budget and successfully completed the cooking challenge.
Tennent said the judges were very impressed with the group.
All youth will be receiving a special recognition gift from Youth Services at their Oct. 22 meeting. Food Lion is also furnishing them with gifts as well.
On the Bravo series, it’s customary for the person who does not win to “pack up their knives and go home.” In this case, no one was required to pack up their knives.
Youth Services Bureau is a Rowan County United Way agency.
Tennent said without the United Way’s support they would not be able to operate.

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