Middle school students compete to add burrito recipes to AISD menus

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — After a two-year pandemic hiatus, the Austin Independent School District’s “Diced and Sliced” culinary competition came back in full force Thursday.

Six teams of middle school students competed to have their burrito recipes on Austin ISD’s school lunch menus next year.

“The opportunity to be here and show off my cooking skills is fantastic,” said Helen Giarracani, a student at Kealing Middle School.

The young chefs competed against each other and presented their burritos to a panel of judges to evaluate taste, appearance, creativity and presentation.

“We wanted to make it sharp, something the jury had never tried before,” Giarracani said. “We seasoned a lot and used a lot of tomatoes.”

This cookery festival at Austin Community College serves as a springboard for AISD’s high school culinary programs.

“In a foodie town like Austin, they can slip straight into a number of jobs,” said AISD executive chef Diane Grodek.

It also inspires these kids to pursue a culinary career.

“Culinary might be a career option, I really enjoy cooking,” said Shimari Espino, a student at Kealing Middle School.

“This is a possibility for what I might do in the future,” said Dobie Middle School student Isaac Hinton.

Creating the perfect recipe together was a big task, but also served as a source of inspiration.

“It’s only when I see everyone else and how well they’ve done that I have high hopes for the future of cooking,” Hinton said.

“It’s amazing that more kids are trying this out,” Giarracani concluded. “More kids will be interested in something they never thought they would be interested in.”

When all was said and done, a team from Kealing Middle School took home the title of best burrito.

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