Baseline Middle School, South Haven Public Schools, South Haven, Michigan
Amy Nichols, foodservice director at South Haven Public Schools, had her eye on a prize in January. She wanted a win for her district at the spring 2015 Michigan Junior Chef Competition. To accomplish that, Nichols, with the help of Principal Bill Stitt, assembled a hard-to-beat team of creative and energetic student chefs with a passion for cooking, eating, and fun. The result was what Nichols had hoped for – Baseline Middle School captured a second-place victory for their locally inspired Grab ‘n Go Blueberry Oatmeal Sundaes.
The team of chefs at Baseline called themselves “Murtillo Mazzo,” which means “The Blueberry Bunch” in Italian. The bunch consisted of three girls, Tori Loikits, Opal Eddy, and Holli Danneburg. Before the competition, Murtillo Mazzo met several times to plan their recipe, practice preparing it, make modifications, and more. “We had a lot more to do than I thought we would,” explained Loikits. “The competition was a lot of fun – but also a lot of hard work!”
The blueberry sundae recipe was modified from a recipe Amy received from dietitian, professional blogger, and friend, Nicole Morrissey (aka Prevention RD). The team worked with Nicole to tweak the recipe to fit competition requirements and make it their own. Competition rules dictated that recipes must include local ingredients, feature two USDA commodity foods, follow USDA meal patterns for grades 9-12, and meet the nutrition standards for sodium, calories, saturated fat, and trans fat.
“There were a lot of dishes in the competition that were fancier than ours,” explained Loikits. “When we saw those, we were a little worried. But we knew from testing the blueberry sundaes at our school that our dish was good and that it was something other schools could easily prepare. We emphasized all those things when we presented our dish to the judges.”
Nichols explained that being part of the competition was a fantastic experience both for her and her student team. “I was very proud at how professional our team was while working on the recipe at school and in East Lansing at the competition. These girls worked hard and I am very proud of them for that!” The Grab ‘n Go Blueberry Oatmeal Sundaes, when served with fat-free milk, are a fully reimbursable school breakfast that is now on the South Haven Public Schools’ menu. It’s easy to replicate, it’s healthy, and it tastes delicious.
For their win, team members of Murtillo Mazzo each received a NutriBullet blender and the South Haven Public Schools foodservice department received a $500 award. The Michigan Junior Chef competition takes place every other year in Michigan.
This story is part of a School Breakfast Success Story Compendium by Michigan Team Nutrition. To read more success stories, click here!
Nicholas Drzal, RD, MPH, Michigan Department of Education
Chris Flood, MS; Nutrition Communications Consultant, Healthy Habits Today