This past weekend I was invited to help judge the 21st Annual Dutch Oven Cookoff at Riverview Jr. High in Murray, UT. In the past, Guy Perkins (known on this blog as GP) has attended and heavily supported this event. He was unable to make it this year and asked me to go along in his place. I have been to my fair share of cook-offs, IDOS events, and DOGs (Dutch Oven Gatherings). However, this contest was something quite a bit different.
Janet Wayman, the schools home-economics teacher and winner of the Utah Education Associations Excellence in Teaching award, has organized this cooking event for over 20 years. The cookoff is not only an opportunity to introduce students to the art of Dutch oven cooking, but to instill an understanding of food preparation guidelines and skills. Janet has involved the local Health Department in order to allow the kids to sell their food to the public. This requires adherence to regulations and rules including providing hand washing stations, proper garbage disposal, clearly marked waste/clean water bins, food prep under canopies, etc. What this amounts to is that each team of Dutch oven cooks must run their booth like a mini-restaurant in order to meet the guidelines of the health department. This is an excellent educational opportunity for the students. Logistics are very difficult to organize and require a significant amount of planning on the part of Janet and the school administration. Seeing teachers this invested into their students’ education is inspiring.
“Students learn from the best when working with Wayman. She has won both the national and world championship in Dutch oven cooking…
“One of Wayman’s favorite things about the cook-off is watching students excel, especially those unaccustomed to the spotlight.”
Being one of the judges for the competition gave me the opportunity to meet the students and inspect their stations. Recipes were well thought out and several of the teams were cooking a full meal with up to seven Dutch ovens timed to complete the spread all at once. Speaking as a former ninth-grader, I was impressed by the cooking techniques and know-how that I encountered. In ninth grade I was lucky if I could make Mac-and-Cheese out of a box. Let alone a bacon-wrapped prime rib, deep dish pizza with made from scratch dough or handmade fettucine noodles. Abilities were varied but enthusiasm was not. Each team seemed to have put a lot of effort into their station design, theme and of course, their Dutch oven meals. They all were hoping to impress the judges and be awarded one of the great prize packages that would be given to the winners or, at the very least, turn a profit on their sales to the public.
Check back soon for postings of the winners, more pictures and recipes from the event.
|Students Get Setup for the Big Cookoff|
|Students Get Setup for the Big Cookoff 2|
|Camp Oven and Big Gas Grill Among the Cookoff Gear|
|Mexican Theme Station|
|Girl Checks Her Dutch Oven Masterpiece|
|Camp Chef Camp Tables, Shelves and Dutch Ovens|