This last point cannot be emphasized enough, in fact, my dream was to take over as host of Man vs. Food, but I decided to take the life of a writer instead.
Once again, the faces I saw at each table cooking up the goods this year were kids I recognized from articles I wrote about sports, high school musicals, and community events, and other extracurricular activities. The advisors to each team were once again an eclectic group of parents, teachers, and community members, and the judges happened to be some of the best chefs I’ve found in the valley. This year once again displayed the true community spirit that goes into the competition, making it easy for the casual observer, or reporter, to understand how Twin Valley’s teams have taken home the top awards every year since its local inception.
While one can focus on the community spirit of the event, make no mistake, the competition element isn’t lost on the kids, and especially not on Paige. “It’s highly competitive,” Paige told me. “It’s always been my angle that, sometimes to the chagrin of the organization, we want to win, and we’re going to do it fair and square.”
Competition always nurtures teamwork, helps to develop skills, and may be the best catalyst for team building exercises there is. Paige said that letting the students form their own teams helps drive the numbers up each year, but just because you’re with your buddies, doesn’t mean you can slack, and this lesson isn’t lost on the Jr. Iron Chefs of Twin Valley.
So for me, as a sports writer, it raises the question: should cooking be a school sport? Let’s review: life skills, team-building, competition, development of goals, teammates, and coaches. I don’t see why not. While I think that Hell’s Kitchen is a waste of brain cells, in the same way that The Voice or American Idol are detriments to the music industry, a statewide cooking competition for kids is flat out fantastic, especially when the goal is to use local, healthy products in our cafeterias.
If ice dancing is considered a sport, if cheerleading is considered a sport, and if poker games are shown on ESPN, why not cooking?
I think that Paige and Twin Valley have already made that decision, whether the rest of the world has or not. All one needs to do is look at the banners in the Twin Valley High School gym to know what it means to these kids.