GATESVILLE — Iron Chefs, move over.

The Cookin’ Chix, Soup-A-Stars and Food Commanders flexed their culinary muscles Thursday at the 2013 Coryell County 4-H Food Show and Food Challenge in Gatesville.

Fourteen youngsters took part in the three-team Food Challenge competition, with the top two teams advancing to the District 8 competition Dec. 11 in Belton where they will compete with 4-H members from 20 other Central Texas counties.

Finishing in first place was the Cookin’ Chix — Samantha Aguilar, Brooklyn Balch, Emma Blakley, Kinsey Gardner and Hailey Luensmann.

Second place went to the Soup-A-Stars — Thiele Alvarado, Makenzie Courtney, Bracy Foote, Hallie Foote and Jeffrey Shonkwiler.

In third was the Food Commanders — Austin Byler, Brett Byler, Jozy Jackson and Joseph Masters.

Participants in the 4-H Food Show were Clover Kid Kinlee Gardner, who prepared a seven-layer dip, and Senior Trey Alcozer, who concocted a mandarin orange salad.

Modeled after such Food Network programs as “Iron Chef” and “Chopped,” the Food Challenge gave participants the chance to demonstrate culinary skill, nutrition knowledge, public speaking and teamwork.

Each team assembled a box of cooking supplies, utensils and equipment from an approved list.

The teams were each given a bag with eight ingredients — extra-virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, dried basil, minced garlic, ground black pepper, ciabatta bread, fresh mozzarella and sliced turkey.

Their instructions were to create a “nutritious snack” following the clue “served melted and golden.” They had 40 minutes to create a recipe, prepare the dish, clean up their areas and prepare a presentation for the three-judge panel.

The challenge was based on a recipe for turkey and mozzarella panini, but the teams were not allowed to see the complete recipe until after the competition.

Coryell County Extension Agents Julie Gardner and Shane Martin guided the teams through the maze of rules and restrictions starting with a thorough precontest briefing.

“OK, what do you do if you feel like you have to throw up?” Gardner asked during the briefing.

“Run to the nearest trash can!” the participants replied in unison.

There were no trash-can trips during the challenge Thursday, just a lot of serious-minded youngsters set on making a winning dish to present to judges Mary Hogan, Joy Sommerfield, and Jennifer Ortega.

Contact Tim Orwig at

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