Bucklands Beach Intermediate students Amy Xiong,13, and Stephanie Chong,12, have won the 2017 MAGGI Pop-Up Kitchen Showdown thanks to their tasty and nutritious satay udon chicken bowl full of broccolini, courgettes, shallots and bok choy.

The MAGGI Pop-Up Kitchen Showdown, now in its eighth consecutive year, is a cooking competition that gives 11-16-year-old students the opportunity to create a nutritious family meal with a difference.

This year a record-breaking 520 teams from schools around New Zealand entered, involving 1,700 students and hundreds of supportive teachers. Teams had to create a new recipe for a healthy family meal costing less than $20, using half a plate of vegetables and incorporating a MAGGI recipe base in a creative way. They then had to cook and serve the meal in under 30 minutes.

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‘Team Amy and Steph’ have been competing on The Adam and Eve Show, along with ‘Team Coconut Sharks’ from Somerville Intermediate in East Auckland and the ‘4Girls’ team from Rosebank School in Balcultha, who each had to cook newly developed recipes for the grand finale.

The judges were impressed by the way all of the teams had incorporated a rainbow of vegetables. ‘Team Coconut Sharks’ was creative with their Jenga Chicken and riot of raw vegetables and team ‘4Girls’ cooked a delicious Si Saw Beef Chili Lime Salad.

However, the perfect balance of vegetables, carbohydrates and protein lead to Amy and Stephanie being awarded the winning title – together with $5000 for their school and $250 each.

Food Coach and MasterChef New Zealand finalist Vanessa Baxter judged the finals and was impressed at how adventurous the teams were with the ingredients used, particularly the winning team.

“The girls prepared their recipe really well, using a MAGGI satay sachet in three different aspects of their dish, thereby enhancing the flavour and balance across the entire main course. This resourcefulness, along with the perfect execution of cooking all three elements of the dish – vegetables, chicken and noodles, made for a winning dish,” Mrs Baxter said.

Providing young people with an opportunity to learn to cook a proper meal is an important part of learning to make good food choices and develop life skills. Results from a Massey University study showed that less than half the food items made by students at school were main meals, while a quarter were baked goods and desserts.

“Sometimes we’re hesitant to let kids into the kitchen because we don’t want them to make a mess, or we’re nervous about cuts and burns. Giving them the chance to cook for themselves lets them develop the skills they need to confidently prepare and cook nutritious meals,” says Mrs Baxter.

MAGGI’s Pop-Up Kitchen Showdown judge and Lead Chef for Nestlé Foods Richard Brogan said during eight years of the competition there had been some delicious meals cooked, created, plated and eaten, and this year was no exception.

“All three teams cooked and presented their meals for a family of four in 30 minutes, which is not an easy task when cooking in an unfamiliar kitchen – but what meals they were! The boys from Somerville Intermediate showed that they knew how to cook chicken to perfection. The team ‘4Girls’ from Rosebank School delighted us with fresh flavours.”

 “But there was one meal that demonstrated that cooking freshly prepared, delicious, balanced meals is something that everyone can do and that meal was the Satay Udon Chicken Bowl, cooked by winners; Team Amy & Steph,” Mr Brogan said.

In the lead-up to the competition, 100 vegeboxes were delivered nationwide for students to get familiar with a wide range of vegetables and start thinking about how to incorporate them into their recipes.

To help with inspiration, teachers were also able to download free resources from iTunes U that provided cutting edge ideas on how to get their students to prepare meals with protein, carbohydrates and lots of vegetables. The resources, titled ‘Re-inventing Dinner’ and ‘Find your Inner Chef’ ranked number one worldwide.

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