Currituck County 4-H Champion Chefs

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Currituck County 4-H Dinah Gore Food Challenge champions

It was cooked, cleaned, and everything in between at the inaugural Dinah Gore 4-H Healthy Food Challenge. The Currituck County 4-H “Kids in the Kitchen” Team claimed victory as the best NC 4-H Jr. Chefs (8-10 year old division).

The team, composed of Ashlynn Ignatowicz, Kari Shawgo and Sarah Schwartz, did an excellent job of applying all the knowledge and cooking skills they learned in multiple practice sessions leading up to the competition. Their dedication and hard work led to a  first place finish in the 8-10 year old division of the competition. Cooking skills were just one part of the competition – Kari, Sarah and Ashlynn also had to learn about macronutrients, food safety, healthy food choices and then apply this knowledge in their presentation to the judges. Time management and teamwork was a critical component of the competition and the “Kids in the Kitchen” team used both extremely well on their way to a victory!

The 2023 Dinah Gore 4-H Healthy Food Challenge was held on May 20th in partnership with the annual Got to Be NC Festival at the NC State Fairgrounds in Raleigh, NC. This contest challenged teams to prepare a meal given a ‘secret ingredient,’ food category, and items from a locally sourced pantry. With just forty minutes to work,  participants had to prepare their dish and a presentation on the nutritional benefit of their meal.

Tomatoes (8–10 year olds), goat cheese (11-13 year olds), and wagyu beef (14-18 year olds) were the secret ingredients that participants learned about only moments after the forty minute countdown began. To accompany these ingredients, participants selected from a variety of local NC fruits, vegetables, spices, sauces, eggs, and much more. These items were donated by vendors participating in the Got to Be NC festival – as local & fresh as it gets!

“The Dinah Gore 4-H Healthy Food Challenge has been a dream of many for the past few years, and watching it come true was nothing short of amazing. We wanted to create a competition that would allow 4-H’ers to focus on healthy, local food choices and showcase their leadership skills by working together to create a nutritious meal. We have some very talented 4-H’ers who accepted the challenge, and all our teams did an outstanding job.” said Dr. Shannon McCollum, Youth Leadership Specialist with North Carolina 4-H and Committee Chair. 

In addition to cash prizes, winners were gifted with an engraved cutting board symbolizing this year’s event. Additionally, the first place team in the 14-18 age division, will advance to represent North Carolina 4-H in Texas at the National 4-H Food Challenge in the late fall.

 4-H is North Carolina’s largest youth development organization, equipping more than 263,000 young people each year with the skills to succeed and improve the world around them. 4-H programs and camps encourage young people to “learn by doing,” helping them to develop into active, contributing citizens. NC State Extension and the Cooperative Extension Program at N.C. A&T State University coordinate 4-H programs statewide.