Each year Baltimore County 4-H holds an event that is unique. The Champion Chow Food Challenge gives the 4-H’er the opportunity to present their food preparation, menu planning, table setting and other diet and nutrition skills at one single event. Youth may enter as an individual or as a team (consisting of 2 members). Individuals and teams plan and submit a menu for one balanced meal (breakfast, lunch, and dinner). The event is an excellent opportunity to enter something that cannot be entered at the County Fair, such as a main dish, soup or salad.
Our youth prepared their menus and food item for the April 2nd event. Most were dressed to match their themed table setting while others were dressed in their best attire. It was a beautiful spring day so while some of our youth were waiting to talk to the judges, they could play outside or enjoy crafts inside. Grace McMullen, a member of the Greater Loch Raven 4-H Club, reflected that Champion Chow gave her the opportunity to see what everyone else makes so you could do the same thing at home. This year, Grace made microphone cupcakes because she decided on a music theme.
There is some youth who like to cook while others like the combination of crafts and food at one single event. One such 4-H’er is Sam Jones from Liberty 4-H Club. Sam made Cinnamon Ice Cream for his summer theme. Terry Fields, of the Greater Loch Raven 4-H Club, on the other hand, enjoys cooking. He made Brownie S’mores for his theme of camping. He hopes to become a chef one day. Ben McMullen, thinks cooking is cool and thinks it is a very significant talent. He made a delicious chili. This was Ben’s first time browning meat. He picked a Star Wars theme because that is his favorite movie.
Other youths seek their inspirations from sources beyond Baltimore. One such 4-H’er was Kailyn of Chestnut Ridge 4-H Club. Kailyn is going to New Orleans soon and decided to research King cakes. The King cake is a cake that is made during Mardi Gras. It is decorated with the colors Purple for Justice, Green for Faith and Gold for Power. Baked inside the cake is a baby. Whoever gets the piece with the baby in it will have good luck all year. That person will bake the cake for the next year including the baby, and so the tradition continues.
This food challenge brings youth from 5-18 together to enjoy the art of setting the table, creating a theme, planning a healthy meal and learning to cook a delicious dish. As part of the competition each youth meets with the judges individually to talk about what they made, how they prepared it and why they selected the items in their theme. It is through this type of competition that each child increases their confidence and communication skills. I can’t think of a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon.