Hundreds of Teens Compete in Our 12th Annual Jr Iron Chef VT Competition

Posted on March 21, 2019

Champlain Valley Exposition, Essex Junction, VT — On March 16, 62 student culinary teams — 264 teens in total — competed in the 12th Annual Jr Iron Chef VT competition, which challenges teams of middle and high school students to create nutritious, local dishes to inspire school meal programs. Teams participate from schools across Vermont, from Holland to Halifax, and include afterschool programs like 4-H and Boys and Girls Club.

Winners were chosen in three categories: teamwork and professionalism, best overall dish, and best use of local ingredients. 58 farms and producers throughout the state were represented in the 62 recipes made on Saturday. All teams are required to use at least one local ingredient, and the “Lively Local” Award goes to the team that most creatively utilizes the local products of their choosing. 2019 Lively Local winners included:

Additional 2019 winning teams and recipes:

Since 2008, over 3,500 kids have participated in the competition at the Champlain Valley Expo, where teams of 3-5 students are coached by local educators, chefs, school nutrition staff, and parents to successfully prepare their dishes in under 90 minutes. Teams practice for months to hone their recipes, and their dedication and skill is evident during the spring competition.

Every dish is judged by a panel of food system professionals and advocates. This year, four of the judges were former Jr Iron Chef participants, some of whom have gone on to cook in area restaurants or even open their own cafe. Vermont Senate President Pro Tempore Tim Ashe was a member of the judging panel: "I was so impressed with all the kids who participated in Junior Iron Chef this weekend. It humbled me - I'm not half the chef they are! Vermont's future, especially its culinary future, will indeed be bright in the hands of these young people."

By participating in Jr Iron Chef VT, students get involved with their community, learn how to work in a group, commit themselves to a team, and develop culinary skills for life, all while proudly representing their school. What’s more, they experience the power of food — how it affects their health, the health of their school, and the health of their community. Participating students are truly our future chefs and food system changemakers.

Jr Iron Chef VT is a statewide culinary competition organized by Vermont FEED (Food Education Every Day), a project of the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont (NOFA-VT) and Shelburne Farms.

Find images from the 2019 competition @

Media Contact: Sarah Webb, Vermont FEED & Shelburne Farms, 802.985.0304 or [email protected]