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Southold students face off in ‘Top Dish’ competition

10/22/2017 6:00 AM |

Students at Southold Elementary School starred in their own cooking competition Oct. 6.

Each class was tasked with creating a dish featuring tomatoes since the school harvested a large tomato crop this year as part of the “Top Dish” competition. Other fruits and vegetables grown in the school’s garden were also used, elementary science teacher Russ Karsten said.

The dishes, 12 in all, included the sensational second-grade salad, kindergarten caprese salad, roasted vegetable skewers, french fries with homemade ketchup and the winning dish, tomato basil salad made by the sixth grade.

“It was a lot of fun,” Mr. Karsten said. “I’m always looking for ways to use the stuff from the garden. I was thinking of creative ways to use this and thought of cooking shows, so I asked the teachers if they were interested in a little food competition.”

Teachers had the opportunity to submit student entries either by grade level or as individual classes.

Some dishes were made in the school cafeteria and others were made in the classrooms but all required an ingredient list, a prep guide and calorie count.

Additionally, some of the older grades wrote essays urging the four judges to choose their creation. A sixth-grade class created a website teaching others how they prepared their dish and another made a video presentation. Younger grades made charts with lists of ingredients, Mr. Karsten said.

“One of the interesting parts to this activity is how it was creative and involved a number of academic disciplines,” superintendent David Gamberg said in an email.

Mr. Karsten agreed, saying as the science teacher he does a lot of work with maintaining the garden and has been looking for ways to integrate it into other aspects of the curriculum.

“It’s nice to get it to connect to the regular classroom,” he said. “The teachers want to be more involved with the garden, so this was a great way to get it into the classroom and connect it with the curriculum.”

Mr. Karsten said he hopes to hold the event annually during the fall harvest.

Additionally, the school district received a grant during the East End School Wellness Conference, a portion of which was used to purchase necessary food items for the competition not grown in the school garden and to award a prize to the winning class.

In addition to using the crops in the “Top Dish” competition, the fruits and vegetables grown by the students have also been used in their cafeteria meals.

“It was all really exciting,” Mr. Karsten said of the event. “I was the MC, basically, so I walked around the crowd with a microphone. The kids felt like they were in a show. We also have SOHO TV here at the high school and they came over here and did some filming. It was a blast.”

Photo caption: Southold elementary students sort through tomatoes, grown in the school garden, that were the main ingredient in the first schoolwide ‘Top Dish’ cooking competition. (Courtesy photo)

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