Yikes! Kids to judge healthy food options

Susan Troller

The REAP Food Group will stage what sounds like a pretty daunting culinary challenge that should be fun to watch at its Food for Thought Festival at the end of September. On Saturday, Sept. 24, three local chefs will join three local school principals as kitchen collaborators, working together to plan and prepare a healthy, nutritious, child-friendly meal that will be judged by the harshest critics around: school age kids themselves.
And that’s not all. The intrepid cooks must do it all on a budget, under a deadline and in front of an audience. School cooks would say it’s almost as hard as what they face daily in the lunchroom.
“I know they will be hard on us,” chef Steve Eriksen says of the young judges. Eriksen is one of the contestants and associate team leader for the kitchen at Madison’s Whole Foods grocery store. “What you get out of children’s mouths is brutal honesty.”
But Eriksen says he has a secret weapon as he prepares for the competition: his 3-year-old daughter, Ella, who is a picky eater. “If we can make something that I think Ella will eat, any kid will like it,” he says with a grin.