Dulles High School Hosts ‘Chopped’ Challenge To Promote Nutrition

Fort Bend ISD held their second annual chopped challenge at Dulles High School in Sugarland. Cafeteria managers and culinary students work together to create three dishes for a set of judges. Chris Cantu reports on the culinary event.


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The idea for the challenge was inspired by the Food Networks show of the same name, Chopped. Eleven teams of cafeteria managers and culinary students around the district joined forces to create three healthy meals for a set of hungry judges. The catch? Contestants only have 20 minutes to create their dish. The idea for the challenge came about after the new federal regulations were implemented into school cafeterias.

Stephanie Kellam is the Wellness Coordinator at Fort Bend. She believes holding an annual cooking competition would help rejuvenate the cafeteria workers spirits.

 “The winner last year stated that it was like winning the lottery for her, it was the best thing that’s ever happened to her in her life. And this year we’ve seen a lot of excitement around it again, a lot of new people coming on to try it out, they want to showcase how they’re creative, showcase their skills, and also showcase how much they love their job and how much fun it is to work for kids and come up with a fun meal for the kids as well.”

Breakfast, non-vegetarian and main entrée are on the menu. The second the timer begins, teams take their basket and rush into the kitchen into a cooking frenzy. Contestants must think quickly about which ingredients are compatible and what cooks the fastest.

Dishes are judged based on appearance, nutritional value, and whether or not it’s appetizing to children. The winning recipe will be featured on the schools menu for the next school year.

Annie Hernandez, cafeteria manager at Hodges Bend Middle school is part of this year’s winning team and is overwhelmed by her win, thanks to her successful dish of fish tacos.

“Very good, I mean I have no words to say”

The vivacity and boost in morale is evident in the contestant’s faces after going through such a challenge. The end goal for holding the competition is to educate children that nutrition can come in many delicious ways and create a wave of enthusiasm through the cafeterias within the district.