Several young 4-H cooks advanced to a state competition after wowing judges with their culinary knowledge during a district event, 4-H leaders say.

Six Val Verde County 4-H food show participants won first and second place ribbons at a district competition Saturday in Big Springs, qualifying for a state contest in June 2019, said County Extension Agent Emily Grant.

Food show competitors prepare and present a recipe to a panel of judges, explaining how they cooked the dish, the dish’s nutrients and a cost analysis, said County Extension Agent Raquel Rodriguez.

Paige Qualia, 14, a six-year 4-H food and nutrition participant, served as team leader during the district competition.

“It was a wonderful experience,” Qualia said. “I enjoy it because I learn so many leadership and life skills that I’ll use for the rest of my life.”

Bess Coggins won first place in the Senior Fruits and Vegetables category, Paige Qualia won first place in Senior Main Dish, Clarissa Ponce won first place in Senior Breads and Cereals and Kate Pendergrass won first place in Senior Nutritious Snack, Grant said.

Caylee Durbin took second place in Junior Fruits and Vegetables, Mia Hernandez won first place in Junior Main Dish, Adora Hosteler won first place in Junior Main Dish and Joaquin Taylor won third place in Nutritious Snack.

Addie Weston won first place in Intermediate Breads and Cereals, Marion Moynihan won second place in Intermediate Fruits and Vegetables and Mia Paxton won fourth place in Intermediate Nutritious Snack.

Additionally, four teams won first and second place during the “food challenge,” an event that prompts the young chefs to prepare a dish from a box of mystery ingredients, Rodriguez said.

Val Verde Veggies, a senior Food Challenge team comprised of Bess Coggins, Paige Qualia, Clarissa Ponce and Caleb Moynihan, won first place in Main Dish. Baking Blue Berries, an intermediate team including Reed Hunt, Kate Fooshee and Hailey Billings, won first place in Fruits and Vegetables.

The Cooking League, an intermediate team including Adora Hostetler, Caroline Stewart, Marion Moynihan and Mia Paxton, won second place in Breads and Cereals. The Junior Mints, a junior team including Ethan Pool, Wesleigh Pool, Mary Stewart and Emily Paxton, won second place in Main Dish.

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