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Harlan County High School captures sixth annual Kentucky State Fair Junior Chef Championship


The Harlan County High School cooking team captured the coveted skillet trophy in the sixth annual Junior Chef Championship cook-off Friday at the Kentucky State Fair.

“Congratulations to Harlan County for winning this very competitive challenge,” Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles said. “Kudos to all the teams that competed this year. Thanks to Sullivan University for its continuing support of the Junior Chef program. Last but not least, thanks to all the teachers, parents, and coaches who mentor these student-chefs and help them learn important life lessons through this program.”

Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles, right, presents the Junior Chef Championship trophy to the Harlan County cooking team on Friday. Pictured are, from left: Harlan County coach Leilani Kelly; Bill Wickliffe, director of the Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s Food Distribution Division; team members Kieran Chadwick and Selena Moreno; Tina Garland, the department’s Farm to School Program administrator; and Commissioner Quarles. (Photo from Kentucky Department of Agriculture)

The Harlan County team – Kieran Chadwick and Selena Moreno – prepared taco pop tarts. Harlan was coached by Leilani Kelly. Each member of the team received a $16,000 scholarship offer from Sullivan University.

The Roasting Redhounds of Corbin High School – Sierra Johnson, Kendell Lewis, and Rachel Standifer – finished second for the second consecutive year with their buffalo chicken boats and strawberry apple salsa. Corbin was coached by Jessica Lester. Each Corbin team member was awarded a $10,000 scholarship offer from Sullivan.

Jessamine Career and Technology Center and Pikeville Independent were the other semi-finalists. Each member of the Jessamine and Pikeville teams received a $6,000 scholarship offer from Sullivan.

Junior Chef encourages participating students to learn how to cook by using local ingredients to prepare healthy meals while teaching students about agriculture, marketing, organization, teamwork, and community involvement. The Junior Chef season begins with district competition in the spring and continues with regional matches to determine the teams that will advance to the state tournament.

The Junior Chef competition is part of the Kentucky Proud Farm to School Program, which helps Kentucky schools purchase local foods to serve to their students. Children get fresh, nutritious foods to help them grow up healthy and strong. Local farmers get another market for their farm products. The Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA) administers the Farm to School Program and the Junior Chef competition.

Other sponsors of the Junior Chef competition besides the KDA and Sullivan University include the Kentucky Department of Education, Division of School and Community Nutrition; the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment; and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service.

Students who are interested in competing in the seventh season of Junior Chef must form their teams by March 2019. Students are advised to see their school’s food service director or consumer science teacher for more information.

From Kentucky Department of Agriculture


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