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Best of the Best: School Cooks Competition Finale was carried out in Bishkek

In March this year, WFP, SIFI and the Ministry of Education and Science of the Kyrgyz Republic announced the second national competition for school cooks. The cooks from 57 schools from all over the country sent their applications for participation in the format of stories about how they came to their profession. The authors of the 35 best stories made it to the second stage. Participants were required to develop an original recipe for the dish in accordance with all the strict rules of school meals, including a limited budget.

On November 11, five finalists met in one of the culinary studios of Bishkek, to compete for the title of the Best School Cook 2021. For more than six months from the date of submission of applications for participation in the contest, they were preparing for this event, bypassed other participants thanks to the successfully completed creative task and appeared before the jury in order to show what they were capable of in a fair fight.

The final of the contest was carried out in two stages. The cooks had to show not only professionalism and creativity, but also demonstrate their knowledge of all the norms of sanitary regulations and standards. In the first stage, the cooks presented the dishes with which they reached the final. In the second, they improvised, preparing a lunch set for school children from a limited list of products.

The jury consisted of Deputy Minister of Education and Science of the Kyrgyz Republic Nadira Dzhusupbekova, Acting Country Director of WFP in the Kyrgyz Republic Michael Huggins, Doctor of the Department of State Sanitary and Epidemiological Surveillance Maria Kushukbakova, chef, chairman of the Association of Cooks Shukhrat Sharipov and SIFI trainer-technologist Nurzat Turdubaeva.

The jury evaluated the originality of the dishes, unexpected but simple combinations of products useful for the growing body of the student. In the process of preparing their masterpieces, the cooks needed to be on the lookout. The jury closely monitored their observance of cleanliness in the workplace, while the presenter asked questions about the sanitary regulations and standards rules. In a word, the cooks got high scores not easily, but deservedly.

Everyone was worthy of the victory, and the jury mentioned this at the time of the results announcement. All five finalists are already winners. First of all - for themselves and for the schools they represented. Their victory lies in the fact that they wholeheartedly try to make dishes for little schoolchildren better - so tasty that kids want to eat them, so healthy that they help preserve the health of the younger generation.

“School is more than just a place to study, it is a pillar of the future
community, and providing a variety of hot meals in schools gives students the opportunity to develop and become healthy citizens, who in turn will have more opportunities to develop a stronger community, ”said Michael Huggins, Acting Country Director of WFP in the Kyrgyz Republic. "Hence, the creativity and hard work of school cooks are the basis for a better and brighter future for children."

At the end of the final stage, the jury tasted the dishes prepared by the participants, giving their marks. The exciting moment of awaiting the results was diluted by the chef Shukhrat Sharipov. He gave a master class on cooking a non-standard dish that can be prepared for little schoolchildren - hummus made from simple and affordable peas. Both the chefs and the jury appreciated the dish. Then they moved on to announcing the results.

Nazgul Alybaeva from Talas region became the Best School Cook 2021. The second place was taken by Maksat Kozhokeev (Issyk-Kul region). The third place went to Gulsada Batyrbekova (Talas region). Aisha Gubarova (Chui Oblast) received the Audience Award, and Inayat Kurbanalieva from Batken region took the special jury prize. We congratulate all the participants with a worthy victory and wish them not to stop there, to develop further and to cook deliciously for the delight of young schoolchildren.

For the second year in a row, the school cooks contest in Kyrgyzstan proves that there are cooks in the country who are true masters of their craft. For them, cooking lunch is not just a routine task, but a real art that is appreciated by satisfied, well-fed children in the school canteen. Such contests allow to take a close look at a difficult and so necessary profession and attract even more professionals to it. The competition has become an important component of the School Meals Optimization Programme in the Kyrgyz Republic, which currently provides hot meals to over 220,000 primary school children in over 800 schools across the country.