Smart cooks in class

Stu­dents in Queen Char­lotte In­ter­me­di­ate School’s Grade 8 lead­er­ship class were tasked with the chal­lenge of cre­at­ing a new, in­no­va­tive food prod­uct with one main in­gre­di­ent: an ap­ple

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - BY CODY MACKAY news­room@the­guardian.pe.ca Twit­ter.com/Cody_MacKay

Stu­dents at Queen Char­lotte In­ter­me­di­ate were tasked with the chal­lenge of cre­at­ing a new, in­no­va­tive food prod­uct with one main in­gre­di­ent: an ap­ple.

One of the sub-ob­jec­tives of this pro­gram is to ex­pose kids to the idea that you can have a really fun cool ca­reer in food. Science, culi­nary arts, busi­ness, mar­ket­ing — they all come to­gether un­der food prod­uct de­vel­op­ment. Peter Crooks, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Canada’s Smartest Kitchen

Think of it as the science fair of food.

Peter Crooks was de­scrib­ing a project to his step­son when he came up with the idea. It wasn’t un­til his step­son gave him some cru­cial feed­back that it all made sense: pre­teens are very good at telling you what they will eat.

Crooks, who is the ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Canada’s Smartest Kitchen, re­cently judged a food com­pe­ti­tion at Queen Char­lotte In­ter­me­di­ate School in Char­lot­te­town, a com­pe­ti­tion aimed at get­ting stu­dents ex­cited about food and about cre­at­ing orig­i­nal, healthy recipes from scratch.

The Grade 8 lead­er­ship stu­dents at Queen Char­lotte were tasked with cre­at­ing an in­no­va­tive food prod­uct with ap­ples. To add a layer of dif­fi­culty, Crooks and Canada’s Smartest Kitchen ex­pected stu­dents to as­sume an en­tre­pre­neur­ial per­spec­tive as well. Cre­at­ing the prod­uct was fore­most, but mar­ket­ing and sell­ing the prod­uct be­came an in­te­gral role to the com­pe­ti­tion.

“One of the sub-ob­jec­tives of this pro­gram is to ex­pose kids to the idea that you can have a really fun cool ca­reer in food,” Crooks says. “Science, culi­nary arts, busi­ness, mar­ket­ing — they all come to­gether un­der food prod­uct de­vel­op­ment.”

Stu­dents were split into groups and took to the kitchen to cre­ate many dif­fer­ent prod­ucts such as ap­ple cof­fee, ap­ple chips, ap­ple buns, ap­ple fries, ap­ple jelly and many more.

Out­side of the kitchen, stu­dents were ex­pected to study their prod­uct and sell it. Some groups trav­elled to gro­cery stores in Char­lot­te­town, brain­storm­ing about where their prod­uct would be in the store, what con­tainer it would be pack­aged in and how the la­bel would read.

Some groups even took to so­cial me­dia to show­case their prod­uct on Face­book, Twit­ter and In­sta­gram.

Savitha Sin­gara­jan, 13, co-cre­ated ap­ple chips and dis­cov­ered the pres­sure of be­ing be­hind some­thing unique.

“We had to ex­per­i­ment quite a bit to get our fi­nal prod­uct and we only in the last five min­utes made our prod­uct,” she said. “With team­work, we ac­com­plished a lot.”

Casey MacLen­nan, 13, helped cre­ate ap­ple cof­fee.

“At the start I didn’t feel like I could truly make a big project that in­volved this many steps,” he said. “I went in with no con­fi­dence .... Now I feel I can take on the world.”

Crooks hopes Queen Char­lotte con­tin­ues to be a great test­ing ground for the Canada’s Smartest Kitchen project.

“We would love to see this idea roll out to other schools in the fu­ture, and hope­fully go provincewide.”

The win­ner of the com­pe­ti­tion will have their prod­uct sold in the school cafe­te­ria, adds Crooks, but ground­break­ing ideas have po­ten­tial to be­come some­thing more.

CODY MACKAY/THE GUARDIAN

Peter Crooks and stu­dents gather around his cell­phone. Af­ter hear­ing the pre­sen­ta­tion about ap­ple cof­fee, he pitched it to the Star­bucks mar­ket­ing team and was read­ing the pos­i­tive re­sponse to the stu­dents.

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