Community Market of Pottawatomie County (CMPC), with the OSU Extension office, offered — for the first time — an afternoon learning workshop and junior-sized cooking contest put together for area children — all in the name of education. The OSU Extension's 4-H program does a similar event annually, called the 4-H Food Showdown.

Community Market of Pottawatomie County (CMPC), with the OSU Extension office, offered — for the first time — an afternoon learning workshop and junior-sized cooking contest put together for area children — all in the name of education. The OSU Extension's 4-H program does a similar event annually, called the 4-H Food Showdown.

The group was eager for the event to begin.

Before getting started, CMPC Assistant Director Lindsay Goodson surveyed contestants who were overwhelmingly in agreement; they soundly determined if they were challenged to make a meal they wouldn't want to discover fish among their mystery basket of usable items. Unsurprisingly, eggplant, spinach and Brussel sprouts also made that list.

As a precursor to the contest, the 27 contestants — between the ages of nine and 14 — rotated through stations where volunteers taught lessons about various kitchen and cooking-related tasks, as well as the vital role of safety and hygiene.

OSU Extension Educator Sonya McDaniel directed the workshop, guiding students through the process of kitchen operation.

Children reaped the benefits of their food creativity, getting to consume the recipes they mastered. Homemade tortilla chips were the end product of a lesson about spices and flavor combinations. After practicing their slicing and dicing skills with strawberries and bananas, students made fruit smoothies. Also, pancakes were on the menu as children were educated on the importance of measuring ingredients correctly.

While adding a secret ingredient to their recipe, some students learned quickly just how far a little cinnamon or salt can go.

As one group navigated with carts through the market on a scavenger hunt shopping trip, another station expounded on the vital role of keeping not only hands and counters spotless, but keeping food and equipment clean, as well.

After each group had participated in all the learning stations, children took a short break touring the facility while workers prepped the Market kitchen for its first official Kids Chopped Challenge.

Loosely based on the concept of a popular cooking show on television, the idea is that competitors are set with the task of using a number of preselected mystery ingredients into a meal better than the opposition's — all while working against the clock.

Split up into several teams — separated by age — contestants were presented with their challenge as friends and families watched.

In an allotted amount of time, contestants were asked to make a meal using an array of specifically-required items for their dish. Competitors also were allowed to add supplemental items of their choosing from the market to complete their creation.

Younger teams had 20 minutes for the assignment and did not use a heat source. Their challenge was to prepare a meal using whole-grain chips, chopped salad, apple bacon-smoked mustard and chick peas.

Older teams received 40 minutes to create a dish using a large onion, diced tomatoes, black beans and chicken tenders.

All proceeds from the contest entries went to the Community Market's food resource center.

Watch videos online at news-star.com to see who won.

You can reach Vicky O. Misa at (405) 214-3962.