Young chefs to compete in salsa competition

Young chefs from nearly 20 Boys & Girls Clubs in metro Atlanta participated in the club’s 2018 Salsa, Salsa competition July 18 at Piedmont Park.

Salsa, Salsa is a celebration of Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta cooking and gardening programs and a way of showing children the importance of good health, club officials said. Officials said Georgia has seen youth obesity rates decline in recent years, but the state still reports the third highest prevalence of overweight children in the country.

Greg Lafortune, a health educator at HealthMPowers, assisted students at Samuel L. Jones Boys & Girls Club in Decatur and East DeKalb Boys & Girls Club in Lithonia with the salsa recipes before the competition. Lafortune said it is important for children to know how to prepare health meals.

“That’s why [HealthMPowers] come out and teaches the kids the importance of physical activity as well as healthy eating because if they don’t adopt some of the methods of eating healthy and staying active, we’re going to see problems in the future,” he said. “Especially when it comes to our community. There are a lot of places where there [is] not a lot of education going out. These kids are the future and if they’re not cognizant of how to keep their bodies healthy and how to make healthy meals, they could get sick tomorrow and won’t be able to take care of their future families.”

Sharrod Burns, left, Nadia Dixon and Summer Burns prepare for Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta’s 2018 Salsa, Salsa competition.

Among the competitors are cousins 12-year-old Sharrod Burns, 10-year-old Summer Burns and 11-year-old Nadia Dixon. The cousins attend Samuel L. Jones Boys & Girls Club and will represent the club in the competition. They said their salsa is good and they are confident they could win the competition.

“In my opinion, I think the flavor will help us win,” said Sharrod, a student at McNair Middle School.

“I think it’s going to be a little sour and spicy,” said Dixon, a student in Newton County.

“I don’t think anyone has made the type of salsa that we’re making,” said Summer, a student at McNair Elementary School.
Preparing their own food is something the cousins have been doing for a while. They said they began cooking at an early age.

“I started cooking with my parents but now I cook on my own,” Dixon said.

“I started helping my mom bake cupcakes,” Summer said.

Dixon said she loved eating grilled cheese sandwiches growing up and wanted to learn how to make one.

“I took a pancake maker, I put a piece of bread in there, put a slice of cheese in there and I put a piece a bread on top and I learned to make a grilled cheese sandwich,” Dixon said. “I just progressed from there.”

Summer said she would always question her mom about what she was making whenever she saw her in the kitchen.

“When she would tell me what she was cooking, I didn’t[understand] what it was, so I asked her if she would teach me how to cook it,” she said.

“I was anxious to learn how to cook,” Sharrod said. “I asked my dad to teach me how to make a sandwich and he taught me how to make a sandwich and eggs.”

Sharrod said his favorite food to cook is chicken. Summer said her favorite food to cook is chicken salad and Dixon enjoys baking cookies.

The cousins said they are looking forward to showing off their skills at the competition, seeing other recipes and hoping to win it all.

“I think we’re going to win, but at the same time I think I’ll get to learn new recipes, find out about things I can try and show it to my family,” Dixon said.

“I’m going into the competition confident,” Sharrod said. “I want to go in with a good mindset, but I also don’t want to get ahead of myself.”

The competition will feature celebrity judges, including chefs from top restaurants, who will crown the winner during the event. Children and guests will get a chance to vote on the best salsa and also learn salsa steps from professional dancers.

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