Patrick Hamilton student wins cooking competition

Leader photo/TED YOAKUM Patrick Hamilton fifth-grader Taven Livingston poses with Food Services Director Deb Cahill (right) and Dowagiac Middle School sixth-grader Sydney Kiner, the winner of the 2015 Future Chefs competition. Livingston beat out 11 other Dowagiac fifth-graders to win the second annual cooking competition, held Wednesday at the middle school.

Leader photo/TED YOAKUM — Patrick Hamilton fifth-grader Taven Livingston poses with Food Services Director Deb Cahill (right) and Dowagiac Middle School sixth-grader Sydney Kiner, the winner of the 2015 Future Chefs competition. Livingston beat out 11 other Dowagiac fifth-graders to win the second annual cooking competition, held Wednesday at the middle school.

Patrick Hamilton fifth-grader Taven Livingston didn’t expect to have his name called last, or even second-to-last, during the closing ceremony of Wednesday’s Future Chef competition at Dowagiac Middle School.

While confident in the recipe he had devised for a bagel quiche, he had no idea his combination of eggs, bagels, ham, mushrooms, broccoli and cheese would impress the panel of judges so much that it would propel him to first place, he said.

“I was thinking maybe third-place,” Livingston said.

The young cooking maven beat out 11 other aspiring fifth-grade chefs during the district’s cooking competition, once again sponsored by Sodexo, the schools’ food service provider. The 12 finalists were selected from a pool of 37 recipe submissions from elementary school students, who were tasked with coming up with healthy breakfast dishes for this year’s nationwide contest.

Working side-by-side with Sodexo chefs, the finalists took over the middle school kitchen Wednesday evening, whipping up samples of their dishes for the four judges and the people in attendance.

Joining Livingston in the top three was second–place winner Jose Jr. Razo, of Patrick Hamilton for his breakfast variation of crab chilaquiles; and third-place winner Anna Ironside, of Kincheloe, for her English muffin egg pizza recipe.

Livingston, with some help from his mom, tried to come up with a recipe that incorporated as many of the ingredients allowed by the competition as possible, while coming up with a combination of flavors that taste well together, he said.

The Patrick Hamilton student has been learning the culinary arts for the past two to three years, deciding to help out his mom in the kitchen, he said.

“Cooking is just a fun experience,” Livingston said. “I like it a lot.”

Other creations whipped up by the fifth-grade cooks that evening included variations of quiches, French toast, burritos and other breakfast favorites.

“The creativity these young chefs had this year was amazing,” said Deb Cahill, director of the district food services, right before the judging got underway.

Judging the competition this year was Dowagiac Middle School Principal Matt Severin, School Nurse Suzanne Dorman, The Baker’s Rhapsody Owner Jordan Anderson and sixth-grade student Sydney Kiner, the winner of the inaugural competition last year.

Principal Severin praised the students’ dishes before the winners were announced, saying he was giving out perfect scores to many of the entries.

“I can’t wait until they all get here [to the middle school] so I can try to get to cook for me,” he joked.

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