Contest gets students cooking

Tyler Hixson, Mike Rohlf and Kevin White prepare dishes for an Aluminum Chef competition at Assumption High School in Davenport Dec. 18. (Photo by Anne Marie Amacher)

By Anne Marie Amacher

DAVENPORT — The challenge was on.

Students in Marianne Agnoli’s Foods 1 classes at Assumption High School in Davenport were to prepare a balanced meal with the main ingredient being chicken. The challenge (a.k.a. the final exam for first semester) included convincing a panel of guest judges in the Aluminum Chef competition Dec. 18.

Each team was allowed to use as many as four boneless, skinless chicken breasts. The teams had one hour to prepare, plate and serve a balanced meal for the four judges and an additional 10 minutes to clean up their kitchen area.

Teams were assessed on a scale of 1-10 for nutritional value of the meal, kitchen safety and sanitation, kitchen management, demonstration of hospitality and kitchen clean-up.


The judges rated the meals on a scale of 1-5 for meal plating/appearance, appropriate temperature, creativity/originality, complementary food choices and overall taste. A comment line was available.

Agnoli gave the teams two weeks to plan and practice preparing their dishes in class and, if needed, at home. Students did not have to come up with original recipes. They could use cookbooks or go on the Internet. The only rule was they could not use prepared foods such as “Chicken Helper.” Written recipes were due on the day of the final.

Teams from the second-period class prepared five very different dishes. Team 1 served a chicken teriyaki shish kabob with rice and a salad. Team 2 offered chicken tacos with bean dip and chips. Team 3 served chicken alfredo on fettuccini with salad and garlic bread. Team 4 presented seasoned chicken with a baked potato topped with cheese, and a Caesar salad. The fifth team served chicken parmesan over spaghetti with a salad.

Hannah Adams, a senior and member of Team 2, said the team found the chicken taco recipe online and used her mom’s recipe for the bean dip. “I feel we presented a really good meal.”

Overall Adams enjoyed the class and learned a lot to help her get through college, she said. The class covered breakfast, lunch, dinner, appetizers and Christmas cookies, she noted.

Team 4, all sports players, said the competition was “fierce,” but team members felt confident that they did well. One member of the team made homemade barbecue sauce.

Bishop Martin Amos, one of the judges for the second-period class, said, “What a wonderful talent to have to be able to present something appetizing.”

Other judges included Frank Agnoli, director of liturgy for the Diocese of Davenport and Marianne Agnoli’s husband; and faculty and staff from Assumption High School.

Winners of the Aluminum Pan competition were: Period 1: Team 2 (Sesame Chicken) — Mary Beth Bush, Kylie Quigley, Beth Oliger, Elizabeth Solchenberger and Morgan Steffen.

Period 2: Team 5 (Chicken Parmesan) — Joe Daniel, Tom Carroll, Sean Finn and Kyle Nickels.

Next semester Foods 2 class will cover international competition with the final exam once again being a cooking challenge — but with a different ingredient.

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