On March 16 Lakewood High School students will lace up the oven mitts and put on their chef faces in the 'National Sodexo Kitchen Wars' competition where over two dozen of them will be cooking up a storm.

One of the student contestants will be Rochelle Chariton who says her inspiration for cooking came from watching her mom cook when she was a kid.

"I used to like watching her and how she mixes everything well," said Chariton. "At the end you get this beautiful finished product."

She adds that preparing food for others through the upcoming competition or cooking at home is a sign of things to come.

"I'd really like to own my own business like a restaurant or something (when she grows up)," said Chariton.

Her classmate Dania Amaro explains that preparing or making food was also a dream of hers growing up.

"I just wanted to know how to prepare different meals from different countries," said Amaro. "I want to try making different food and learning from different cultures."

She hopes to one day travel the world and learn more about how those different cultures prepare food.

Janaee Johnson is tipping her hand in regards to what appetizing dish her team will be cooking in next months competition.

"We're thinking about doing a fried catfish with spicy black-eyed-peas over rice," said Johnson. "As an appetizer we're going to do some bing-bing wings."

In addition to the high school students challenge, there is a 'Future Chefs Competition' of elementary school kids coming up on February 25.

"When they're out there serving it and letting their parents, people of the school board and community members sample it...they have the biggest smile on their face," said Cory Goldfarb, General Manager of Food Services for the Lakewood Township School District.

He adds that they also try to make cooking fun for students outside of competition as well.

Goldfarb also played a critical role in reeling in these upcoming food competitions, and adds he has the backing of school officials.

"The district is really, really supportive of the programs that we do that benefits and teaches the students," said Goldfarb.

He adds that they've also partnered with the schools culinary arts teacher whose chefs club and FCCLA students work with the aspiring chefs.

Contact Reporter Vin Ebenau at 848-221-8100 or at vin.ebenau@townsquaremedia.com

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