Ten-year-old Domiana Badger, a fifth-grade student at Hamilton School in Port Angeles, adds seasoning for a dish of chicken lettuce wraps, during Friday’s “Kids Can Cook” competition at the Port Angeles High School cafeteria. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Ten-year-old Domiana Badger, a fifth-grade student at Hamilton School in Port Angeles, adds seasoning for a dish of chicken lettuce wraps, during Friday’s “Kids Can Cook” competition at the Port Angeles High School cafeteria. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Port Angeles fifth-grader wins top prize in cooking competition

PORT ANGELES — A Hamilton Elementary fifth-grade student’s culinary creation won the grand prize in the Kids Can Cook contest.

Olivia Maeder’s Asian Sloppy Joes was judged to be the grand prize winner after 10 budding chefs created dishes from original recipes in the Port Angeles High School cafeteria Friday.

The students had assistance from workers with Sodexo, a food service company that sponsors the annual cook-off.

The chefs were the finalists after the district asked for submittals of original recipes in December, said Kathy Crowly, the district’s food services director, who oversaw the whole process.

By 9 a.m., the student cooks were in the kitchen. By 11:30 a.m., they had plated their food on festively decorated tables in the cafeteria, ready for the judging to begin.

On hand to judge the entrees were Port Angeles School Board President Sarah Methner, Superintendent Marc Jackson, and Administrative Assistant Jennie Wilson.

“This is really hard,” Wilson said. “Everything tastes so good.”

Jackson had a long discussion with Amalia Hicks, a first-grade student from Franklin Elementary and one of the finalists.

“She wanted to tell me all about the process — how she added the meat to the pan, then added the sauce,” Jackson said.

“They really got to use their creativity in this activity. It’s exciting to see how learning takes place.”

Other finalists were:

• Macie Bruch, third grade, Franklin Elementary.

• Brylie Martin, third grade; Domiana Badger, fifth grade, Hamilton Elementary.

• Jaidyn Rodocker, third grade; Ariana Varhalla, fourth grade; and Casey Bruning, fifth grade; Jefferson Elementary.

• Amalia Bell, fourth grade; and Abby Riffle, fourth grade, Roosevelt Elementary.

After the judging was completed, everyone was invited to sample the food. Crowly quickly tallied up the scoring sheets to determine the winner.

The audience of mostly family members were asked to be seated for a brief presentation.

Each finalist received some cooking “swag” and a participation medal.

The grand prize winner was awarded a set of pans in addition.

“This is yours, not mom’s,” joked Crowly, drawing a laugh from the audience.

“This is just a lot of fun. It’s one of my favorite days of the school year,” Crowly said.

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