The School Cooks Competition began in November last year and was held in several stages.
1. Qualifying - all school cooks who wanted to take part sent in stories about how they came to their profession.
2. Regional - 35 authors of the most unique and interesting stories have come up with their own original author's dish. When developing the recipe, it was necessary to adhere to strict criteria: a ready-made dish cost is not more than 10 soms per serving, only local ingredients allowed for school meals, gentle cooking methods, vegetables / fruits presence, original serving.
3. Final - 5 authors of the most original recipes with interesting performance became finalists. Natalya Pavlova (Issyk-Kul region), Anara Bazarkulova (Talas region), Amina Abdullina (Chui region), Klara Ibykeeva (Chui region), Chynara Zhumaeva (Osh region).
How was the final?
In the final, our cooks competed for the title of the Best School Cook 2020 in three stages of the competition.
In the first stage, they presented their dishes, with which they reached the final.
In the second, they “fought” in a culinary contest, complementing their hot dish with a set of salad and a drink from a limited set of fruits and vegetables.
And in the third stage, which took place in parallel with the culinary contest, the cooks answered the quiz questions on the rules of working in the kitchen.
In the meantime, the jury monitored their work, tasted the dishes, and evaluated the answers to the quiz questions.
The jury included Deputy Minister of Education and Science of the Kyrgyz Republic Dzhusupbekova Nadira Syntashevna, Country Director of the UN WFP in Kyrgyzstan Andrea Bagnoli, doctor of the Department of State Sanitary and Epidemiological Surveillance Maria Ysakulovna Kushukbakova, healthy nutrition specialist Sarybaeva Leyla Sergeevna, SIFI technologist Turdalieva Nurzat.
While the results were being summed up, Leyla Sarybaeva and Andrea Bagnoli showed the guests two master classes on healthy eating. Leyla made healthy snacks with dried fruit and honey. And Andrea - Italian bruschetta with a Kyrgyz motive: toast, greased with salad of tomatoes, basil, vegetable oil and sprinkled with crumbs of Kyrgyz cheese kurut.
They are all winners
All five cooks who reached the final are already winners, finalists of the “Best School Cook 2020” competition. At home, in the kitchen, our relatives are responsible for a fragrant bun, warm tasty soup, airy puree: grandmother, mom or dad. And in the school kitchen the responsible is a school cook. It is a good, caring school cook who continues the work of parents - prepares school meals deliciously like at home and with care for the child's health.
This competition was about such cooks. They work creatively, caringly, with warmth in their hearts, with all their skill. It were these cooks who reached the finals and all of them received their awards.
Anara Bazarkulova representing Talas region became the Best School Cook 2020. As a reward, she received winner's Cup with the organizers' logos, diploma and gratitude to the school she represents, as well as a certificate for the purchase of kitchen appliances for the school, and a multifunctional blender for herself.
The rest of the finalists also received their well-deserved certificates, gratitude to schools and useful equipment in the school kitchen as well as in their home kitchen.
About the invaluable work of school cooks
Competitions like these are a great opportunity to honor the school cooks who work tirelessly to feed children in schools, let cooks to prove themselves and show their skills in decorating, preparing and serving school meals. All this leads to their professional skills increase, gives them the motivation to become better, to cook tastier.
The best cooks work creatively: they decorate dishes in an unusual way, add unusual but healthy ingredients, making the ration more varied, and the dish itself more attractive to the child. This approach helps children develop a culture of healthy nutrition, eating affordable locally produced foods: beans, aubergine, pumpkin and others.
Addressing the cooks, Andrea Bagnoli said: “Cooking is taking care. And every day you, dear cooks, take care of cooking for 300-400, and sometimes more children every day. And cook from delicious healthy products that grow in our country. A good cook thinks like a doctor, using all his knowledge, decorates a dish like an artist, and cooks like grandmother. "
The Cook Competition has become an important part of the School Meals Optimization Programme, which provides nutritious hot meals to some 200,000 elementary school students in over 700 schools across the country.
Deputy Minister of Education and Science of the Kyrgyz Republic Dzhusupbekova Nadira Syntashevna noted: “Together with our partners, we not only equip our schools with modern kitchen equipment. Most importantly, we provide the basic principals of a healthy, balanced diet. In order for our children and their parents to acquire the skills of how to eat right for life. The main characters in our school canteen are the cooks. If our school cooks constantly improve their skills, cook correctly and tasty, then our children will implement these principles of healthy eating in their families. "
Since 2013, in partnership with the UN World Food Program and the Russian Social and Industrial Foodservice Institute, with financial support from the Russian Federation, the Ministry of Education and Science of the Kyrgyz Republic has been conducting a programme to improve nutrition in the country's schools. This programme received wide support from local and national authorities, the public and donors.
By 2023, WFP and the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic plans to introduce hot meals in all schools in the country, which should be facilitated by the law on school meals adopted in 2019, which will ensure the sustainable development of school meals.