Cooks were whipping up different dishes in the Ollivier Middle School cafeteria on Thursday night, but it wasn’t the normal kitchen staff that was cooking.

Eight children from the Greenfield Union School District showed off their culinary skills in a Breakfast of Champions kids cooking contest at the school. One student from each grade level through seventh grade each made a breakfast dish, vying to win best recipe in the district.

The goal of the event is to promote healthy eating and the eating of breakfast at school, according to the district.

Kendrick Elementary first-grader Maximiliano Rojas won for his pizza grilled cheese, with a marinara dipping sauce. The dish will be part of the district’s April breakfast menu. While there was only one winner, each student took home a certificate for their efforts.

Dishes were judged by five educators in the district based on nutritional value, presentation, creativity, ease of preparation, taste and whether it was kid-friendly.

Angelica Rendon, a seventh-grader from Greenfield Middle School, has participated in the contest for three years. This year, she made a bagels filled with eggs, bacon, onion and cheese.

“I was interested because I wanted to learn how to cook more,” she said. “I try to think from the kids’ point of view and think of what they might like. Most of the time, I hear they like bacon and bagels, so I thought I would give something like this a try.”

Giving her a helping hand was her mother Rosalva. Rendon said she helped with making the bacon.

“[Angelica] let me know what she was worried about doing and she did the rest,” she said. “Communication is pretty good. It’s an easy flow for both of us.”

Horizon Elementary fifth-grader Layla Beard made a potato and egg casserole for the competition, with the assistance of her mother Ladwan. It was her first time participating in the event.

While she enjoyed cooking on Thursday, Layla said there was a complication. Layla wanted potatoes o’brien, which come pre-cut, but the school accidentally sent hash browns, so Layla had to cut whole potatoes herself.

While that was an unexpected hurdle, Layla said she still enjoyed the cooking experience.

“We were confident at the end,” she said. “It’s been very fun and relaxing for me. I would do it a million times if I could.”

Ladwan Beard said Layla had previously received two years worth of cooking lessons in school and has been helping her at home.

“I trust her with a knife and I trust her with the stove because she was taught. I like that she knows how to follow directions,” she said. “I just helped in a couple spots, like with putting the eggs in.”

For sixth-grader Natalie Rivas, cooking in the Ollivier school kitchen wasn’t an entirely alien experience, as she attends the school. Rivas made a bacon and gouda sandwich with the assistance of her mother Elizabeth.

“Mom kept making the sandwich for breakfast and it made me want to try doing it,” she said. “It was fun. I liked how I got to use a stove. Cooking the bacon was the hardest part.”

Natalie’s brother Rafael, a second-grader at Kendrick Elementary, also entered into the contest this year with a sausage egg crescent roll.

“It’s nice seeing them get some hands-on experience in the kitchen,” Rivas said. “I didn’t realize how independent they could be, how much they could actually get done by themselves.”

Joseph Luiz can be reached at 395-7368 or by email at jluiz@bakersfield.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @JLuiz_TBC. 

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