As students were leaving for the day, the kitchen at Life High School was being set up for a chef competition on Friday Feb 28.

The six students competing in the challenge, came from the Cedar Hill, Oak Cliff and Red Oak Life school campuses. These students were dressed in chef hats and white aprons, partnered with a Sodexo worker for aid and safety.

Krista Courtney, the Sodexo General Manager, began the competition by having a safety meeting with the students and workers. She gave encouraging words to the kids before they began.

“Judges are out there and they’re hungry, I don’t want you to be nervous,” Courtney said.

This year’s theme was, "Recreate your favorite lunch."  Students were given 45 minutes to prep and cook their meal.

Prepping a fiesta salad, third-grader Ja’Qualyn Woodard came and represented the Oakcliff Elemantary campus. This was her first time participating in the challenge because last year the challenge was only open  to participants from Cedar Hill.

”My favorite part of cooking was the part when I was making the sauce and decorating the plates,” Ja’Qualyn said.

For the challenge, the Sodexo development team reached out to the community to get volunteer judges. They judged on the level of difficulty and taste.

In first place, third-grader Hailee Mitchell from Life Red Oak Elementary, won with her mini sloppy joe. She took home a new bike.

In second place, fifth grader Victoria Turner from Life Red Oak Elementary, placed with her Mexican lasagna. She took home brand new pots and pans.

In third place, third-grader Ja’Qualyn Woodard from Life Oak Cliff Elementary, placed with her fiesta salad. She took home new mixing bowls, cutting boards, oven mitts and a cookbook.

Fifth-grader Isabel Felton won honorable mention, placing in fourth, for her pizza pocket. She went home with a Raising Canes gift basket.

Other finalists were, third-grader Armani Byers from Life Oak Cliff Elementary and fifth-grader Kenadi Tyson from Life Cedar Hill Elementary.

“My favorite part is seeing them in the kitchen and moving around and just learning different techniques,” Courtney said. ”The first year we did this, we did this with Cedar Hill because we wanted to test it out..once the word got out other campuses were like “We want in” and so this year it went from one campus to three campuses.”

Next year, Courtney hopes other campuses will join the challenge.

“I hope this grows bigger and bigger and that this teaches our kids out there that cooking is fun and it's not just we gotta cook to eat it’s ‘look what I can cook that is awesome to make,’” Courtney said.