Written by Jamie Treadwell, age 17, Christoval High School senior, intern at KFA
Two years ago, my sister asked me if I wanted to be on her new 4-H Food Challenge Team. Seeing as my cooking knowledge was as wide as making toast and cereal, I was concerned about how much of an asset I would be for the team. In case you weren’t aware, the 4-H Food Challenge consists of teams of three to five that receive a random bag of ingredients and have to make a dish in forty minutes, sort of like Chopped, the television show. However, after exploring the idea, I decided that it could be a really exciting experience.
Our first year was a little slow, and we did not perform too well, simply because the challenge was quite new to us. However, we pushed through and kept practicing. Last February was our District Competition, where we were able to make a dish worthy enough to earn first place, which advanced us to State Round-Up. By the time state rolled around, we had been practicing every week and were determined to come out victorious. When June finally came it was time to compete, and we were extremely nervous. The first round of state was not terribly intimidating, it just felt like another practice. Thankfully, we were able to place first in our category, which advanced us to the final challenge. This was a whole other story. The top four teams in Texas would now battle it out for the national spot, and we were contenders. Forty minutes of cooking and ten minutes presenting later, we were officially state champions, sending us to Nationals at the Texas State Fair.
Arriving at the State Fair, with the large display of lights and overwhelming size, it was clear we were not at the San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo. The National Competition consists of one round, and winner takes all. After getting acquainted with the other state teams and walking around the fair, it was time to compete. Our forty minutes began, and our bag contained three peaches, a pork chop, flour, an onion, and chicken broth. What in the world could this make? Thankfully, my sister had an idea. “Let’s use cheese from the pantry and make bowls, filling them with pork salad, topped with a peach dressing.” I had my doubts, but if anyone could do it, I knew it would be us. Forty stressful minutes later, we had successfully concocted our Fredericksburg Pork Salad Bites. Finally, it was time to announce the National Champion, and I could not have been more stressed. They started with fifth place and worked their way down, getting slower and slower as they called each place. After what felt like forever, it was time to find out who won. “And your 2018 Nation Champions are… Tom Green County!”
Even though I was skeptical of joining our 4-H Food Challenge Team in the first place, I am forever grateful that I took the leap that paid off in the end. In conclusion, I learned to not be afraid to try new things. It turned out to become one of my great successes of my seventeen years on this earth.