We had a blast at Iron Chef 2023! This was BVSD's eleventh year of running the junior Iron Chef competition, in which middle school teams submit original recipes using the same parameters that we use in our production kitchen, with the winning dish going on the BVSD menu. This year’s theme was “Colorado Favorites” and we invited six finalist teams to participate in the Iron Chef Cook-Off on March 15th at Arapahoe Ridge High School.
For the Cook-Off, each team had a station with camp-style burners, chef knives, cutting boards, pots and pans, and any other equipment they needed to make their dish. They were given official Iron Chef 2023 t-shirts and chef hats to wear while they cooked. Each team also had an adult coach who could offer advice but couldn’t do any of the actual cooking, and access to our Food Service District Managers, who circulated through the cafeteria. The teams were given an hour to cook, while family and friends looked on. It was amazing to see the teams dice, saute, boil, and blend their raw ingredients into delicious meals. The cooking stations looked like restaurant kitchens, as teams made roux, glazes, and garnishes to put their dish over the top.
While they watched, guests were invited to sample food cooked by our production kitchen staff, including last year’s Iron Chef winning dish, tofu jambalaya, and a lemon panna cotta that we served in schools on Friday, March 17th as a healthy dessert. At BVSD, we’re proud of the scratch-cooked, nutritious meals we offer to students, and love giving parents a chance to try what we’re serving. We also love hearing from our students, and Iron Chef gives us a great chance to showcase their innovation and culinary expertise!
When teams finished and plated their dishes, District Managers brought the entrees up to our panel of judges. This year’s panel included several District Managers, along with two guest judges from the Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts and one from Premier Members Credit Union. The dishes they sampled this year were chicken fried rice, beef and bean chili, sweet pork rice with a palisade peach radish salad, green chile mac casserole, colorado caviar chili, and chili verde. Each team had a chance to talk about the inspiration behind their dish, and its connection to the “Colorado Favorites” theme.
After the judges had sampled all six dishes, they conferred with each other to choose the winner. It was a tough choice this year, as each dish was unique and tasty. After a spirited debate,, the judges came to their decision. Our first place winner of this year’s Iron Chef competition was Superboil with their green chile mac casserole! In second place was The Simmer Sisters with Colorado Caviar chili, and third place went to 2cool2cook for their chili verde. The top three teams each received an oversized check, and a donation will be made to the schools of each of this year’s Iron Chef finalists.
You’ll be seeing green chile mac casserole on the BVSD menu next year, and you might see other finalist dishes as well! We loved what the students came up with, and we try to get as many onto our menu as possible. We had such a great time at this year’s Iron Chef, and loved getting the opportunity to show off the talents of our student chefs. Thank you to all our finalist teams, their coaches, our judging panel, and everyone who came out to support the event!