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Kindle Farm, MVU, SATEC bring home accolades at Junior Iron Chef competition

Teams of pint-sized chefs were brimming with anticipation as they hurriedly assembled gas burners and unpacked fresh ingredients last Saturday. Competitors barked commands at each other over the excited chattering of a growing crowd of spectators. One by one, they started raising green cards into the air, signifying they were ready to begin.

On March 18, middle and high school chefs from around the state convened at the Champlain Valley Exposition to prove their chops at the 10th annual Junior Iron Chef VT Competition. The event was organized by Vermont FEED and sponsored by a number of local organizations.

The Abbey Group sponsored 11 teams, three of which walked away with awards.

Two high school teams took home the Crowd Pleaser award, for which participants received $1,000 scholarships for the New England Culinary Institute and a local-food-related gift package made up of sponsor products.

The Kindle Farmers from Kindle Farm School won the morning heat for their Tofu Lo Mein. The team comprised Ethan Anderson, John Daily, Austin Honig, Liam Mulholland, and Maxwell Weeks. Their coach was Patrick Carroll.

The Thunderchefs from Missisquoi Valley Union High School wowed the judges in the afternoon heat with their take on Quinoa Spicy Stuffed Peppers. Team members included Julia Hieden, Brittany Merchant, Chelsea Rocheleau, Leah Smail, and Alyssa Vincent. Their coaches were Alisa Aylward and Ashley Bowen.

In the middle school division, one Abbey Group team took its place at the top of the pack. St. Albans Town Education Center’s Pawtastic Chefs nabbed the Mise En Place award for exemplary teamwork, order, and professionalism. They made Roasted Beet Hummus Sandwiches. They were awarded a local-food-related gift package. The winning team comprised Maya Belanger, Isabelle Burleson, Will Dumont, and Connor Powell. Team coach was Jane Berry.

Other Abbey Group schools that sent teams to the competition include: Fairfield Center School, Mount Anthony Union Middle School, North Country Union Junior High School, and Leland & Gray Union Middle School.

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Abbey Group schools conquer Breakfast After the Bell Challenge

Three of the Abbey Group’s schools have won the second round of the Vermont Breakfast After the Bell Challenge.

The challenge — a collaboration between Hunger Free Vermont and the New England Dairy and Food Council — encourages schools to increase breakfast participation by at least 20 percent by moving breakfast after the bell, according to Hunger Free Vermont’s website.

Highgate Elementary School, Missisquoi Valley Union High School and North Country Union Junior High School will be receiving “Breakfast After the Bell Champion” banners to proudly display in their schools.

Schools win the award by having high participation in the National School Breakfast Program.

Highgate Elementary’s breakfast participation grew 117 percent; MVU’s increased by 642 percent; and North Country saw 118 percent growth.

On an average day, 65 percent of Highgate Elementary’s population eats breakfast. At MVU, that population is 89 percent. Coming in a bit lower, 37 percent of North Country’s population eats breakfast at school.

Press conferences will come at the schools.

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