Here at Culinary Crossroads, we’re big fans of food sports. From burger battles to bake-offs, we love to see what competing chefs can cook up on the spot.
We got a chance to enjoy a competition up close last September, when our partners at Paramount Schools of Excellence launched their inaugural Perfect Bite chef competition as part of the school’s annual TURN Festival.
The festival, to be held this year on Sept. 23, celebrates sustainable living and provides a day of fun and education for students, families and the school’s Brookside campus neighborhood on Indianapolis’ eastside. In past years, the fest included a separate, ticketed chef dinner. But starting last year, the Perfect Bite competition offered a delicious tasting event that featured 20 top chefs vying for the People’s Choice Award for the best bite, which won three chefs a “golden ticket,” qualifying them for the World Food Championships in Dallas in November.
Those winning chefs then engaged in an on-the-spot cooking competition, selecting a protein and basic ingredients from a pantry. But the audience got involved too, cheering on the competitors and purchasing additional ingredients for the chefs. And this year’s competition looks to be even more exciting.
This year there’s also a student category, part of Paramount’s Junior Chef Academy program. Paramount students who have participated in the school’s Junior Chef Academy will compete during this year’s TURN Fest to create their own “perfect bites.” Winning students get their own golden tickets for a new junior division at the World Food Championships.
But there’s a serious purpose behind creating the junior chef program at Paramount, said school CEO Tommy Reddicks.
“The Junior Chef Academy is designed to attack food insecurity at the source, which is training up our students to try to become better prepared to meet the needs of food challenges and also see a new career pathway,” Reddicks told WISH-TV news recently. “And it’s about getting trained up in all these great culinary skills with an opportunity to really produce at a state and world level.”
The TURN Festival and the student competition is Saturday, Sept. 23, with the Perfect Bite chef competition taking place Sunday, Sept. 24. Proceeds from the competition benefit Paramount Schools of Excellence, Victory College Prep and Purdue Extension programming, as well as the participating chefs. Check out Paramount Schools of Excellence for more info on the school, TURN Festival and the Junior Chef Academy.