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Best School Cook 2023 to be determined in Dushanbe

On November 11, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) and Russia’s Social and Industrial Foodservice Institute (SIFI) will hold the final part of the Best School Cook 2023 competition at the Yu. Gagarin Russian-Tajik school in Dushanbe.

For the first time, the competition to determine the best school cook in Tajikistan took place last year. With a large number of positive reviews from the participants, the jury, and representatives of the Ministries of Education and Science, Health and Social Protection of the Republic of Tajikistan, the UN WFP, in partnership with SIFI, decided to set up a good tradition and announced the second competition.

The competition aims to raise awareness of the career of a school cook. By providing balanced school meals that meet all quality and safety standards, chefs attest to the importance of fostering healthy eating habits in the younger generation. Additionally, the competition grants cooks from all throughout Tajikistan a chance to express themselves, demonstrate and hone their culinary skills, and earn priceless experience in cooking school meals.

The Best School Cook 2023 competition was announced in June. Applications were accepted from cooks who work in schools participating in the WFP School Feeding Programme nationwide.

Based on the results of the applications received, 42 participants representing five regions of Tajikistan reached the semi-finals held in the format of on-site sessions. In the Sughd region, Bokhtar and Kulyab districts of the Khatlon region, the Badakhshan Mountainous Autonomous Region, and the Districts of Republican Subordination, participants competed to prepare the healthiest dishes for schoolchildren.

The jury included officials from the Ministry of Health and Social Protection and the Ministry of Education and Science, as well as representatives of the UN WFP in Tajikistan and SIFI.

The five finalists will compete for the title of Tajikistan’s Best School Cook in three stages: cooking a signature school dish, preparing a salad and drink set, and answering questions on workplace policies.

While the finalists prepare their dishes, the winners of the children's creativity competition on the topic of healthy nutrition honoring the 60th anniversary of WFP activity in Tajikistan will attend an award ceremony.

Both competitions are held as part of the School Feeding Programme - the largest UN WFP project in Tajikistan, which has been implemented in partnership with SIFI since 2013. The project provides nutritious hot meals to about 500,000 primary school children in more than 2,000 schools throughout Tajikistan.