The third time was the charm Feb. 19 for an M.C. Riley Elementary School fifth grader who won the 2018 Sodexo Future Chef competition.
Brady Sacha was one of 12 elementary school student finalists from across the district who prepared healthy Asian fusion foods - this year's competition category - for a panel of five judges at River Ridge Academy. Judges awarded points based on the recipes' originality, taste, healthy attributes, plate presentation, ease of preparation and kid-friendliness.
This was Sacha's third straight year as a finalist in the Future Chef competition, and his creative take on Asian fusion - Asian Sloppy Joes with Apple and Carrot Slaw - scored No. 1 with the judges. His sandwich recipe featured sautéed ground turkey with hoisin, ginger and garlic, while his accompanying apple and carrot slaw was finished with a ginger, sesame seed and rice wine vinegar dressing.
"I looked around at the other kids in the kitchen, and I thought I didn't have a chance," Sacha said. "Everything they were cooking looked so great."
Sacha credited his mother for his love of cooking. "She's a great cook," he said, "and when she needs help in the kitchen, I pitch in."
For his first-place finish, Sacha was awarded a prize basket of cookware, kitchen utensils, a Fitbit, a Future Chef apron, cutting boards and a camera. He now has a chance to move on to the 2018 regional and national Future Chef competitions.
The 12 finalists were chosen from more than 50 young cooks from district elementary schools who submitted recipes in this year's challenge, sponsored by Sodexo.
First runner-up was third-grader Jocelyn Hastilow from River Ridge Academy for her Filipino Chicken Adobo Tacos. Second runner-up was fifth-grader Alaysia Neal from Broad River Elementary School for her Shrimp and Pork Shumai.
All participants received gift bags including cooking utensils. First and second runners-up received additional cookware.
The other 2018 finalists were:
- Alexis Berryhill (Grade 4, Beaufort Elementary) - Mongolian Beef Tacos.
- Sophia Blackwell (Grade 5, Red Cedar Elementary) - Asian Noodle Salad.
- Caroline Bullock (Grade 4, Hilton Head Island School for the Creative Arts) - Veg-T-Balls.
- Naomi Campbell (Grade 1, Okatie Elementary) - Dragon Boat Lettuce Wraps.
- Benjamin Groff (Grade 2, Mossy Oaks Elementary) - Indonesian Chicken Skewers.
- Agnes Kelly Gross (Grade 5, Hilton Head Island Elementary) - Healthy Tofu Stir-fry with Quinoa.
- Kandice Henderson (Grade 4, Joseph S. Shanklin Elementary) - Asian Chicken Rollups.
- Mia Jaquiss (Grade 2, Hilton Head Island School for the Creative Arts) - Thai Chili Chicken Skewers.
- Mary Ruff (Grade 5, Beaufort Elementary) - Kimbap.