A police-community program to get kids in the kitchen has become a launching pad for culinary careers.
With Toronto Police officers encouraging them, students from four Toronto schools competed in an annual Stone Soup Cook-off at Humber College on May 6.
Students from Nelson A. Boylen Collegiate Institute, Archbishop Romero Catholic Secondary, George Harvey Collegiate Institute and Mary Ward Catholic Secondary School prepared an array of tasty dishes. George Harvey students finished first.
Comprising Grades nine to 12 students, the four teams created a complete meal before presenting their finished dishes to a panel of judges that included new Chief Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders as well as Toronto Sun Food Editor Rita DeMontis and Food Network Chef Lynn Crawford.
“It’s an opportunity here to help teach these young men and women how to properly navigate the kitchen and also have an understanding of culinary techniques that are available,” said Saunders.
The students prepared chicken several ways including grilled and in pasta. Desserts were riffs on classics like passion fruit flan and crepes stuffed with chocolate and avocado.
This is the eighth year for this competition, a product of the Stone Soup after-school initiative brought together by Toronto Police 12 and 42 Divisions, Community Police Liaison Committee volunteers, Toronto Parks & Recreation and Public Health representatives to help nurture students interested in a career in food, or to try their hands at something different.
“The original idea was to teach kids how to cook healthy and inexpensive meals — that’s why we called it Stone Soup,” said Barbara Spyropoulos, co-chair of the 12 Division Community Police Liaison Committee. “With the help of weekly guest chefs, students were taught to create nutritious meals on a budget. But we have found the enthusiasm for the program has grown tremendously throughout the years, and now we also see it as a way to introduce students into a culinary career.”