Henderson Co. High "Colonels Cookin' Crazies" culinary team gives board of ed a taste treat as part of its preparations for state fair competition

Henderson Gleaner, June 21, 2016

Colonels Cookin’ Crazies headed to State Fair
By Erin Schmitt

Practice makes perfect — particularly in cooking.

Judging by the savory baked honey garlic chicken with steamed rice and broccoli that was whipped up Monday evening by Henderson County High School's Junior Chef team, the Colonels Cookin' Crazies have already perfected their practice.

"It's probably one of the best," said team member Zane Hankins of the dish. "The judges at competition said that it was the best they ever tasted at this competition."

The chicken dish has qualified to be entered in the USDA-sponsored Kentucky State Fair Junior Chef competition in August. The team will compete against Daviess County on Aug. 24 in the single-elimination competition.

The Colonels Cookin' Crazies met in the Thelma B. Johnson Early Learning Center early Monday evening to fix samples of the team's signature dish as further practice for the state competition.

The samples went over well Monday night when they were served at the Henderson County Board of Education meeting, where the team also received recognition medals for advancing to state.

"What a treat," said Superintendent Marganna Stanley. "Thank you for the samples tonight."

Team members include Hankins, Siara Marquez, Fernanda Gomez and Audura Goodley, who was ill and could not attend Monday night. All four students on the team are rising seniors and enrolled in the culinary program at the high school.

"I love that because I've got one more year with this group," said Charlotte Baumgartner, the district's director of child nutrition and one of the team coaches along with culinary arts teacher Ginny Johnson. "They are an awesome little team, so that's just perfect."

Baumgartner is the district's director of child nutrition and co-coach of the Junior Chef team along with culinary arts teacher Ginny Johnson.

Each Junior Chef team can have four or five members. Johnson selects members for the team who have expressed interest. She bases her decision on who makes the team based on who is the best fit to compete, Baumgartners said.

Johnson was a big reason Marquez wanted to join the team.

"She's always been encouraging me to join competitions," Marquez said.

Teams score points in competition based on the recipe and for how many Farm-to-table products are used.

"They want to see local, they want to see the ingredients we are using," said Baumgartner.

Most of the ingredients used in the Colonels Cookin' Crazies' dish will be provided at the competition aside from honey and chipotle seasoning that is made at Baumgartner's CDB's Farm.

The winning team at the state competition receives scholarships to Sullivan University in Louisville — an enticing prize for the junior chefs.

Earning a scholarship to Sullivan is the goal for rising senior Fernanda Gomez, who has already toured the campus twice.

"I want to go there really, really bad," she said. "I have a T-shirt to prove it."

Gomez became interested in culinary arts through watching shows like "Chopped." Her favorite meals to make are Mexican, but she also loves mixing it up.

"I just look at stuff on Pinterest and think, 'ooh, that looks good,'" she said. "I like when I don't have a lot of stuff in my refrigerator or cabinets, so then I can be creative."

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