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Pinkerton wins inaugural MRE Challenge

Students and Guardsmen team up for cooking competition

SALEM- The Culinary Arts team from Pinkerton Academy won the inaugural MRE Challenge last night at Salem High School, taking home the coveted Granite Skillet. The team cooking competition organized by the New Hampshire Department of Education and the New Hampshire Army National Guard teamed high school culinary students from six New Hampshire high school CTE programs and Guardsmen to create gourmet dishes using the ingredients from military-issue MREs (Meals Ready to Eat.) The 2,000 calorie packs are meant to keep troops fed in the field, but are not known for their culinary excellence.

Competing schools included Pinkerton, Alvirne, Nashua, Milford, Salem, and the Manchester School of Technology.

Guardsmen have been working with the student chefs for months to familiarize them with MREs, but none of the competitors knew in advance which meals would serve as their ingredients. The teams also had to incorporate a secret ingredient, plantains, that was revealed to them during their 45-minute cooking time. The Pinkerton team’s winning dish was plantain ratatouille with garlic bread.

“What an impressive display of culinary talent,” said New Hampshire Adjutant Gen. David Mikolaities. “The students were focused and disciplined, a great reflection on their respective teachers and schools. They are well led. Equally impressive was the student-led video production crew. We look forward to making this an annual event.”

The 2019 MRE Challenge involved students across several CTE programs. Pinkerton’s Marketing team took first place in the poster contest. MST Marketing students won the logo design competition and MST’s Culinary Arts team won the appetizer cooking competition. Teams from the school’s Video Production programs also created commercials to promote the event. Salem High School’s Video Production students live-steamed the event online and to an audience in the Salem High School auditorium.

“Our first MRE Challenge was a huge success, and I want to thank the Guard and our CTE centers for working together across several programs to create such a great learning environment for these students,” said Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut. “We’re hoping to expand this to more schools next year when Pinkerton puts the Granite Skillet back up for grabs.”

The video of the 2019 MRE Challenge, sponsored by the New Hampshire Department of Education and New Hampshire Army National Guard, is now available to view on the Department of Education’s YouTube page. The video was shot, hosted, and produced by students at Salem School District Television. The project was an unprecedented collaboration, not only between the DOE and the Guard, but across Culinary, Video, and Marketing programs at six New Hampshire high school CTE programs.

New Hampshire Department of Education
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