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Cabarrus Magazine

Concord Police & Local-Area High Schoolers Compete in Cabarrus Chef Challenge

Dec 16, 2016 08:35PM ● By Melanie Heisinger

Recently, Cabarrus Health Alliance (CHA) hosted an event where students and a few members of the Concord Police squared off in a Cabarrus Chef Challenge. Much like the popular TV show Chopped, students from Cox Mill High School and Northwest Cabarrus High School were given 45 minutes to cook an appetizer, main course, and dessert. They also had a pantry they could use, but only 2 students were allowed in the pantry at a time. 

Throughout the event, Concord Police officers were there to offer support and give tips to the high schoolers that were cooking while they prepared their dished for their "celebrity" judges. Concord Police Chief Gary Gacek was one of the judges for the dishes. 

The ultimate hope, along with the fun of it all, was to raise awareness for health-conscious eating and cooking. We were able to get in touch with Meghan Charpentier, a nutritionist by education, who coordinates a variety of programs at CHA.

Meghan is the primary instructor for Cooking Classes, but also works as part of several grant programs. Meghan is often seen leading Couch to 5K programs or teaching classes at the local libraries. 

Meghan was able to let us know a little bit more about the Cabarrus Chef Challenge, as well as what else we can expect in the future from the CHA.


Tell us a little about the Cabarrus Chef Challenge. How did it get started?

When I was approached with this idea in the fall of 2015 from our School Nurses at Northwest Cabarrus High School and Cox Mill High School, I was unsure of how to plan our own version of the Food Network’s “Chopped” with creating a pantry and engaging all of the students so they could each have a role in the cook-off. 

After seeing the excitement and support from the respective school nurses, we have been able to evolve our idea into a reoccurring school challenge that the students are excited to participate. Each time we hold this event, I feel we have improved our process as well as gotten more community stakeholders involved.

What were your goals for the event? Do you feel like you met them?

The goals included engaging the students in a team building activity that integrated healthy foods.  By building recipes and designated how many people per team could be doing certain things at a time, as only 2 in the kitchen at a time. It forced the students to make a plan and then execute it. 

What was your personal favorite aspect of the Cooking Challenge and its mission?

My favorite part of the event is the planning stage. Being a nutrition advocate and working in the nutrition field, listening to both teams communication amongst themselves to come up with a recipes based on the availability of food is music to my ears. I am beyond impressed with the student’s nutrition and culinary knowledge, as well as their creativity and teamwork to put together a themed meal under time constraints and specific guidelines.

What was one of your most memorable moments of the event?

That’s a hard one!  Having Concord Police as part of the teams was fun this semester.  I think they learned as much from the students as the students learned from them!  It was certainly nice to see them working side-by-side!

Will there be any more like this in the future?

 CHA is always willing to partner with new classes to host these events.  Interested civic groups or workplaces who would like to plan an event should contact Meghan at 704-920-1324.  So far, we’ve only worked with Cox Mill and Northwest Cabarrus but would like to see more schools participate! 

Are there any upcoming activities or events?

CHA offers cooking classes every month. The themes change and offer a great variety for even the pickiest eater!  Classes and registration information can be found on the Cabarrus Health Alliance website: www.cabarrushealth.org. Classes at $10 per person.

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