DERBY — Prendergast School sixth grader Naomi Ortiz, of Ansonia, was top chef at the 5th Annual Valley Initiative to Advance Health and Learning in Schools (VITAHLS) Healthy Cooking Competition.
that included experts in cooking and youth health
Ortiz’s sweet chili salmon with white jasmine rice was named best by a panel of judges at Griffin Hospital.
Ortiz’s recipe beat out tasty and healthy Asian fusion-inspired entries by Rocco Grella, a fourth-grader at the Maple Hill School in Naugatuck; Victoria Koether, a sixth-grader at Seymour Middle School, Brooklyn Neff, a fifth-grader from the Perry Hill School in Shelton, and Nicole Gregory, a fifth-grader from Derby’s Bradley School.
“We look forward to this contest every year because it provides a fun and exciting way for local students to showcase their talents for cooking, and it encourages healthy eating and cooking at home and in the local community,” said Kim Doughty, the VITAHLS coordinator at the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center.
The five contestants advanced to the finals by winning local competitions in their school district.
All finalists received a personalized apron, gardening tools and seeds from Massaro Community Farm, a gift card to Sports Center of Connecticut, and a cookbook.
Ortiz also won a Big Y gift card, passes to Rockin’ Jump Trampoline Park in Trumbull, a one-month membership to the Valley YMCA, and a gift certificate to Wild Kanji hibachi restaurant in Shelton.
VITAHLS is a childhood obesity prevention initiative collaboration between Griffin Hospital, Yale Griffin PRC, and the Ansonia, Derby, Seymour, Shelton and Naugatuck school districts.
Since 2011, VITAHLS has integrated a variety of nutrition and physical activity programs into the existing school structure to help reduce childhood obesity.
2018 VITAHLS Cooking Competition.jpg – From left: Nicole Gregory, Grade 5, of Bradley School in Derby, Rocco Grella, Grade 4, of Maple Hill School in Naugatuck, Naomi Ortiz, Grade 6, of Prendergast School in Ansonia, Brooklyn Neff, Grade 5, of Perry Hill School in Shelton, and Victoria Koether, Grade 6, of Seymour Middle School, competed in the 5th Annual Valley Initiative to Advance Health and Learning in Schools (VITAHLS) Healthy Cooking Competition Finals at Griffin Hospital.