Dover Wins Second Annual Granite Skillet MRE Challenge
Students and Guardsmen team up in the kitchen
CONCORD, NH — Taking home the coveted Granite Skillet trophy, the culinary arts team from Dover Regional Career Technical Center won the Granite Skillet 2022 MRE Challenge last week at Lakes Region Community College.
The team cooking competition organized by the New Hampshire Army National Guard and the New Hampshire Department of Education partners high school culinary students from several New Hampshire high school CTE programs and Guardsmen to create gourmet dishes using the ingredients from military-issue MREs (Meals Ready to Eat).
Participants were challenged with using the 2,000 calorie MRE packs to create a delectable culinary experience during Thursday’s competition, which was the final chapter of a three-part challenge to find the best young chefs in the region – a competition that kicked off in December and concluded on Jan. 19.
“Applied learning is what CTE is all about, and events such as this allow New Hampshire CTE students to showcase what they can do in a real-world setting,” said Jeffry Beard, deputy state director for Career and Technical Education. “As a judge, I can say with confidence that these were restaurant-quality meals prepared by excellent chefs.”
The first-place award was earned by Team Buttercup of Dover Regional Career Technical Center, followed by second-place finisher Manchester School of Technology and the third-place team from North Point High School for Science, Technology and Industry in Colebrook. Of note, North Point is a brand-new culinary program for the state, worthy of recognition for advancing to the finals despite their rookie status.
Guardsmen worked with the student chefs to familiarize them with MREs, and the culinary teams had 90 minutes to create their unique dishes. Dover’s winning dish was beef and spaghetti kofta with chicken burrito and Mexican style chicken stew cous cous salad with a grape jelly tzatziki. Team members include Jon Biron, Logan Castonguay, Jared Cuevas and Noah Bilodeau.
“I am genuinely impressed by these young chefs and their talent in the kitchen. Each student was eager to create a special dish to wow the judges, and they did not disappoint,” said Sgt. Zerk-Eli Manner of the NH Army National Guard. “New Hampshire’s hospitality industry will be lucky to have some of these skillful cooks.”
The 2022 MRE Challenge involved students across several CTE programs. The marketing team and video production team from Mt. Washington Valley Career Technical Center in Conway took first place in the poster contest and video commercial contest. Marketing students from the Richard W. Creteau Regional Technology Center in Rochester won the logo design competition and Dover’s culinary arts team (consisting of Steeley Baker and Will Crowley) won the snack cooking competition; Conant High School's culinary team took second place for the snack competition.
“This event has become a popular culinary challenge among New Hampshire’s most talented student chefs, and it was a privilege to be able to sample some of their edible masterpieces,” said Frank Edelblut, education commissioner. “We are honored to have students from throughout the state’s CTE centers participate in this special competition, which provides them with an opportunity to showcase their special skills and potentially take home the infamous Granite Skillet.”
Here is a YouTube video from Thursday’s competition.