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Ilsley hosts Iron Chef contest for area students

MIDDLEBURY ¾ The basement of the Ilsley Public Library was filled on Friday night with the enthusiasm of middle school and high school students and a colorful spread of foods ranging from chocolate to fruit pizza as about 20 teens were competing to win the title of “Iron Chef.”
The two-hour event was hosted by the Teen Advisory Group and funded by the library to promote teen after-hours special events.
The competition first consisted of a series of challenges that determined which the ingredients each of the five teams received, and then each had to prepare a meal with the ingredients to impress a panel of volunteer judges.
Youth Services Librarian Sarah Lawton, 33, organized the event, with help from two students, rising 10-grader Harper Smith and incoming ninth-grader Carolyn Balparda.
Lawton explained that because the library’s youth services does not have a large staff, events like this one give students a chance to help organizers andchart their own course. Lawton also spoke to the importance of events like this in encouraging kids to use the library.
“While activities like Top Chef may not relate to reading,” said Lawton “it does provide enrichment and a way to build relationships.”
Prizes were awarded for best recipe, best taste, best presentation, most creative dish, and most resourceful effort. The grand title of “Top Chef” was awarded to the best dish overall.
The winning dish of the night was a stir-fry concoction. Other notable dishes included “Chocolate Surprise” and bacon, lettuce, and cheese finger sandwiches.
One judge, Victoria Gonzales, said the event was a hit and that the food turned out much better than anyone expected.
“I’m actually really, really impressed because when I cook for myself it never looks this good,” said Gonzales.
Lawton says that the group will be having more kid-friendly events like the Iron Chef competition in the future, starting with a musical guest performanceon Friday, July 27 from 6 to 8 P.M. Students interested can refer to the Ilsley Public Library website for more details.

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