Yukon’s ‘Future Chefs’ share passion, creativity

Six students prepare recipes in YHS kitchen at Sodexo competition

Finalists and judges for Sodexo’s “Future Chefs Competition” in Yukon Public Schools were: From left, student judge Ella Gentry, Yukon district chef Bryan Henley, Sarah Stiegelmeyer, Caitlin Dean, Adriana Castro, Lilliana Owdetallah, Adrian Platt, Madelyn Brown, and Sodexo regional executive chief Jacqueline Fields. Sarah won the competition with her yummy “smashed potatoes”. (Photo by Conrad Dudderar)

By Conrad Dudderar
Staff Writer

Six intermediate students prepared dishes during Yukon Public Schools’ Future Chefs competition.

Sodexo, the Yukon school district’s food service provider, hosted the competition March 23 inside the Yukon High School food court and kitchen.

Students from Lakeview, Independence and Redstone intermediate schools submitted recipes for Yukon’s Future Chefs competition.

“We change themes each year; this time it’s side dishes,” said YPS Food Service Director Chuck Thomas, general manager at Sodexo.

“The whole goal is to have fun.”

The program encourages future chefs to embrace a passion for preparing dishes.

Six finalists were selected based on originality, ease of preparation, healthy attributes (nutritional content), kid friendliness, taste, and plate preparation.

These Yukon students prepared side dishes that were judged by Sodexo’s regional executive chief Jacqueline Fields, YPS district chef Bryan Henley and 10th grader Ella Gentry:

  • Independence fifth grader Madelyn Brown – cheese zucchini noodle splash
  • Independence fifth grader Adriana Castro – Mexican street corn
  • Redstone fifth grader Caitlin Dean – grilled corn guacamole
  • Lakeview fifth grader Lilliana Owdetallah – Arabic salad
  • Redstone fourth grader Adrian Platt – hint of mint fruit salad
  • Lakeview fifth grader Sarah Stiegelmeyer – smashed potatoes

Sarah was judged Yukon’s winner and has advanced to Sodexo’s national competition.

Adrian Platt tosses chopped fruit into a bowl for his hint of mint fruit salad. (Photo by Conrad Dudderar)


The ingredients in Sarah’s mouth-watering smashed potatoes recipe are:

12 new potatoes, 3 tbsp. olive oil, salt, grated parmesan cheese, and parsley; with a dipping sauce of 1/3 cup ranch dressing, 1/4 cup sour cream, 1 tsp. garlic powder, salt, and pepper.

The judges awarded Sarah and her fellow future chefs with points for originality, easy preparation, heathy attributes, kid friendly, taste, and plate presentation.

Prizes were a cookware set, cutting board, Fitbit, and cookbooks.

YPS Sodexo food service employees served as sous chefs for Yukon’s future chefs. These assistants provided food safety and sanitation training, then helped the students prepare their dishes.

Each finalist had a presentation plate and sample plate for the judges.

Parents and guests of the competitors were invited to watch the March 23rd competition.

“There were a lot of recipes submitted,” Thomas told the audience. “So, making it here today is quite an accomplishment. Two from each school were selected.”

Sodexo is the food service provider for 23 school districts across Oklahoma. The company is finishing its fifth year in Yukon, now serving about 4,600 lunches and 1,600 breakfasts each day.

“Future Chefs is a program that Sodexo has done for a number of years,” Thomas told the audience. “We took a little break with COVID because it was hard to get everybody together.

“But we’re glad to start the program again.”

Lilliana Owdetallah slices a mini-English cucumber for her Arabic salad. (Photo by Conrad Dudderar)
Caitlin Dean slices a tomato as she prepares her grilled corn guacamole. (Photo by Conrad Dudderar)
YPS food service director Chuck Thomas, general manager at Sodexo, welcomes attendees to the March 23rd “Future Chefs Competition” inside the Yukon High School food court. (Photo by Conrad Dudderar)