Youth whip up local food dishes

The popularity of reality cooking shows is spilling over into locally produced events. At the Sunshine Skillet cooking contest in Medicine Hat, Alta., amateurs and home cooks were judged against each other.

That’s a great time to showcase locally produced food. The secret ingredient box included bison rouladen, berry wine, honey mead and brassica mustard.

TV cooking shows have existed since the 1940s. They seem to be timeless and tap into our desire to experience good food without breaking the bank.

Today the focus is on local, nutritious and ethical food.

Growing up on a Saskatchewan farm, I was rapt by The Galloping Gourmet. Chef Graham Kerr made cooking interesting while Madame Jehane Benoit was a food icon and showed us how to cook with the microwave oven.

In 1973, she became an Officer of the Order of Canada for her contributions.

I am heartened to find youth equally passionate about food and cooking. In the Sunshine Skillet competition, there were two male high school students competing against seasoned home cooks.

Kenaniah Schnare, 16, loves to cook and is currently enrolled in cooking classes at his school.

He received a mystery box in the competition that contained a brined and lightly smoked pork chop, local barbecue sauce and microgreens.

“The microgreens were new but they looked like they would work in a salad,” he said.

In Round 4, Grade 9 student Billy Smith competed. The night before the competition he was so worried that fish, his least favourite food, might be in the mystery box that he and his mentor, Grandpa Bruce, made fish.

Instead of fish, Smith received quick cooking barley, lamb sausage and honey mead. Unfortunately time ran out before he could finish getting his creations on the plate.

“When I realized the potatoes wouldn’t be done in time, I just took them off and got on with the lamb meatballs. I have never seen barley before and I just thought, oh this isn’t going to be good, and just put them on the plate anyway,” he said.

Another boy who hopes to compete next year said he prefers the adult competition to the children’s one because it involved cooking from scratch, not just from packages.

Medicine Hat could be on to something with this event.

Sarah Galvin is a home economist, teacher and farmers’ market vendor at Swift Current, Sask., and a member of Team Resources. She writes a blog at allourfingersinthepie.blogspot.ca. Contact: team@producer.com.