Teens battle to see who will be named Iron Chef — and who will be chopped

Teens battle to see who will be named Iron Chef — and who will be chopped
Photo by Arthur De Gaeta

The foodie craze has finally infiltrated the most reluctant of groups: teenagers.

Kensington elementary school PS 230 was transformed into an epicurean battleground on Saturday, as teams of teenagers duked it out in a chef battle, cooking things that had even the seasoned chefs in attendance blinking their eyes.

“I was a little concerned when they told me they wanted to make salmon sandwiches with turkey bacon and truffle oil,” said chef and organizer Veronica Guzman of the winning dish. “But the way that they cooked it I was like, ‘Oh my god, it’s really good!’ ”

The high schoolers who took part in the competition — in which two teams duked it out by cooking three-course meals they had been planning for weeks — are all part of Guzman’s afterschool program, where they learn critical foodie know-how, such as knife skills and cooking methods, as part of a program that seeks to sow healthy and conscientious eating habits in an age group not known for its salubrious behavior.

And kids have really taken to the lifestyle, according to Guzman.

“All these things they’re making in the program, you’re looking at a 15-, 16-year-old kid, and you’re like, ‘How do you know about all these things?’ ” she said. “The program has brought all these families together. They say, ‘When I come home, it feels good that my kid is cooking dinner’ and they know about budgeting and how to cook things that taste good and are healthy.”

The winning team — Team Purple, as the kids called themselves — took home all the edible glory with its creation, a salmon BLT, which was concocted under a strict budget of $50 and judged by a panel of local figures such as Councilman Brad Lander (D–Kensington), the commanding officer of the 66th Precinct, and a yoga instructor.

Lander said the event was proof teenagers can do more than sit on the couch with potato chips.

“What’s so great about this is it takes teenagers who are typically junk-food denizens and it helps them see that they can make delicious and healthy food,” said Lander. “Really in just a few short weeks they learned an enormous amount — the food they cooked was delicious!”

Reach reporter Eli Rosenberg at erosenberg@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-2531. And follow him at twitter.com/emrosenberg.

Winning ingredient: Adam Garcia puts the finishing touches on the seared salmon for Team Purple’s salmon BLTs, which won the judges over and propelled the team to a culinary victory.
Photo by Arthur De Gaeta