AUGUSTA –The Maine Department of Education, Child Nutrition team is holding its annual Farm to School Cook-off in SY 2021 as usual, except this year it will look a bit differently. The cook-off is a statewide culinary competition for teams of school nutrition professionals and students to promote local foods in school meals. This voluntary competition is made available to all school districts in the state.
On a “typical” year, the cook-off would involve three regional competitions that take place in locations across the state (including CTE culinary arts centers), and a finals competition in the Child Nutrition Culinary Classroom. To adapt to these ever-changing times, the format for the 2021 cook-off will be as follows:
Round 1– virtual cook-off (March 2021). Teams will submit videos of their breakfast and lunch meals to be posted on the Child Nutrition website, where voting will take place. The top three teams will advance to round 2.
The video presentation will include details on local ingredients, techniques used, feasibility, and anything else the team would like to share.
Round 2– final cook-off (May 2021). The top teams will compete in the Child Nutrition Culinary Classroom in Augusta! The 2021 Farm to School Cook-off champion will be awarded a plaque and the opportunity to be spokespeople in the 2022 cookbook. Please note all necessary precautions will be taken, including face coverings and social distancing of teams in the culinary classroom. The Child Nutrition team will be monitoring any changes needed to this format to ensure the safety of all participants.
Each team will prepare a breakfast and lunch meal within a specific time frame using at least three ingredients that are grown, raised, caught, or manufactured in the State of Maine and meet Summer Food Service Program meal requirements as well as one USDA food. Local eggs and local parsnips will be used as “challenge” ingredients in the competition. All recipes will later be shared in a Maine farm to school cookbook to be used in future summer meals programs.
Interested school districts can find more information and the link to register on the Maine Child Nutrition website. The registration deadline is December 18, 2020. For more information on Maine’s Farm and Sea to School program, visit https://www.maine.gov/doe/farmtoschool.