Students serve up breakfast for Niagara Nutrition Partners
May 30, 2019
Gala event raises $37,000 in support of student nutrition
by Steve Henschel Niagara This Week - St. Catharines
St. Francis student Abby Jones spent Thursday morning serving up chicken hash crepes as part of Niagara Nutrition Partners' Breakfast Gala Niagara Student Cook-off. The school's creation took home top marks from judges at the event. - Steve Henschel/Torstar
Karly Cabral and Alyssa Seniuk of Blessed Trinity put the finishing touches on orders of chorizo and potato strata. - Steve Henschel/Torstar1 / 2
While the chicken-hash crepes, drizzled with lemon crème glaze, served up by St. Francis Catholic Secondary School students might have won the hearts of judges, the offering was just a piece of the sumptuous breakfast feast on the menu.
The school took top marks from judges Thursday morning, beating out the breakfast creations of culinary students from five other Niagara high schools serving breakfast to more than 250 guests gathered at Amici’s Banquet and Conference Centre as Niagara Nutrition Partners’ (NNP) Breakfast Gala Niagara Student Cook-off returned for its ninth year.
Celebrity chef and event host Anna Olson had nothing but praise for the myriad dishes created by students and school faculty.
“Breakfast is the hardest meal to prepare for guests,” she explained, noting individuals might be adventurous with lunch and dinner but are, typically, particular with their first meal of the day. With that in mind, she said, students rose to the challenge.
“The quality and calibre is outstanding,” she said. “There’s something for everyone.”
Anne Kirkpatrick, project manager for NNP, shared Olson’s sentiments and said many guests commented that this year’s array of breakfast dishes was the best in event history.
“They (students) put a lot of time and thought into it,” said Kirkpatrick. She said it was close for the judges’ first pick. Blessed Trinity’s chorizo and potato strata with spinach and cheddar lost by just two points but in the end received some consolation, landing the people’s choice award.
Kirkpatrick explained it's fitting to have students step up and cook in support of a program that itself feeds students in what has become the signature fundraiser for NNP. The non-profit partners with school boards to support in-school nutrition programs, all focused on ensuring students of all socio-economic backgrounds have a full stomach as they spend their day studying.
“It’s a universal program … it’s for hungry kids, not poor kids,” said Kirkpatrick.
Niagara Catholic District School Board director John Crocco explained the nutrition delivered by NNP is crucial for learning outcomes.
“It sets the tone for the rest of the day,” he said.
In total, NNP supports 180 programs in 150 schools across Niagara, reaching 17,000 children — meaning the money raised Thursday is critical.
“It’s shaping up to be our best year ever,” she said, estimating proceeds at $37,000 as the event wrapped up.