The Minneapolis Public Schools held their annual Jr. Iron Chef competition at the Solar Arts Building on Monday, May 8. The competition paired up students from area schools with local chefs. Each team was challenged to create a dish from scratch with ingredients provided. “They did not tell us anything until we arrived and looked at the pantry. We didn’t even know what protein we were going to have. We didn’t know what the secret ingredient was until we already started cooking,” explained Molly Herrmann, Chef of Kitchen in the Market. That secret ingredient was dried cranberries. Chef Hermann with her team, Tiana Novak and Dara Ross (Northeast Middle School), used the dried cranberries in their empanada filling.
Throughout the event there was such positive energy. Students alongside local chefs created restaurant quality dishes while event-goers looked on and cameras captured their progress. As teams completed their dishes, spectators were treated to a spread of dishes currently served at Minneapolis Public Schools including Chef Ann Kim’s (Young Joni) winning Chili from the first year competition. This year first place went to Chef Lucas Rosenbrook (Alma) along with students Riyan Said (Marcy Open School) and Max Myrvik (Ramsey Middle School) for their Turkey Farro Tostadas.
Rosenbrook said, “My chef, Alex Roberts (Owner/Chef of Restaurant Alma and Brasa Rotisserie), asked if I would like to participate this year. I said ‘Absolutely!’ My daughter is in eighth grade in the school district and eats school lunch every day.” Rosenbrook said the kids “were really great! Open minds and had some knife skills and cooking ability above even what I expected.”
“I thought they way they laid it out in a round made for more spectator enjoyment. They’re making better and better food all the time,” said Chef Alex Roberts.
Student teacher Erica Grandpre was at the event cheering on one of her students, Miguel Lopez, a 6th grader from Anwatin Middle School. Lopez learned to cook in Mexico with his grandma. He now cooks with his dad at home and aspires to become a chef. “I think the event is phenomenal! I love the pairing of community restaurants with our community schools. The ingredients and food they’re serving us is of absolute high quality that you get at the co-op. Bringing all of this to a children’s level, not just something for adults, I think is really profound.” said Grandpre.
In the photos, top: Chef Vincent Francoual (Cara Irish Pubs) leads his team of young cooks, Miguel Lopez (Anwatin Middle School) and Navier Jiles (Franklin Middle School) as hungry young spectators look on. Middle: Riyan Said and Max Myvrik prep ginger and radishes. Below: Riyan Said, Chef Lucas Rosenbrook and Max Myrvik pose for a quick selfie after being awarded winners of the 2017 Jr. Iron Chef competition. (Photos by Mike Madison)