Once they were signed in and heard the rules, youth had 30 minutes to come up with two desserts.
On a couple of tables were a selection of snack cakes; bowls of ice cream, marshmallows, pretzel sticks and Oreos; and a wide selection of toppings, including marshmallow creme, icing, jelly, syrup, Cool Whip and hazelnut spread.
One dessert had to contain at least four ingredients, and a secret ingredient — Twizzlers — had to be incorporated into both dishes.
At the 30-minute mark, contestants had to present the items to the judges for them to taste. They then left the room for the judges to score on originality/presentation, appearance and taste.
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After a few minutes, they returned to the room and stood in front of the main judge, who announced the results.
The Medora Iron Chef 2015 was seventh-grader Savanna Wineinger, and the Crothersville Iron Chef 2015 was seventh-grader Christian Henry.
This was the first time for the Jackson County Public Library branches in those communities to conduct an Iron Chef: Desserts competition, which is based on the popular “Iron Chef” television show.
“I love cooking, and I just thought it would be really fun,” said Savanna, 13. “I was hoping that I would win, but I wasn’t sure. Then when they said my name, I was pretty happy.”
Christian, 12, said he also was happy about winning.
“I thought someone else was going to win, and I didn’t know,” he said. “I thought some of that stuff was like, ‘Wow!’”
Savanna said she likes to cook whenever she finds the time, including making appetizers, side dishes and desserts. Her favorite thing to make is a smoothie.
“Because I make them homemade, and I just think of them off the top of my head and use whatever I can find around the house,” she said.
With her first dessert, Savanna started with vanilla ice cream and then put crushed Oreos on top. She then drizzled chocolate over it, added marshmallow creme and drizzled more chocolate. The finishing touch was coconut shavings to add a little flavor.
For her second dessert, she placed a Twinkie on the bottom, added marshmallow creme and put Twizzlers, coconut and marshmallows to give it a fruity shortcake taste.
Savanna said it was fun to come up with two creations in a short amount of time.
“You can just really let your imagination go,” she said.
Christian said he cooks every now and then.
“I tried it once, and I like doing stuff with it,” he said. “I usually like to make breakfast food.”
For one of his desserts, he put marshmallow creme, chocolate chips and small marshmallows in a small graham cracker shell. Then, he plopped a marshmallow in the middle and stuck a pretzel stick in it and added strips of Twizzlers.
His second one started with Oreos on the bottom and topped with whipped cream, sprinkles, chocolate chips, a Hershey’s Kiss and Twizzlers.
“It was fun just being able to mix up the food and choose what you want,” Christian said.
Perhaps the best part of the competition was that each participant got to take his or her creations home to eat, and they also could take leftover snack cakes and toppings home.
Bill Anderson, community services manager for the Jackson County Public Library, said he saw on a blog where other libraries across the country were doing a similar program.
“We’re trying to grow our programs at both of our branches, and we wanted something for the older elementary kids and the younger kids to do,” said Anderson, who also is the branch manager at the Crothersville and Medora libraries and oversees the Bookmobile.
One reason he chose this type of program was to encourage creativity.
“We want them to come in and they are having fun, but they are also learning something, as well,” Anderson said. “It’s to teach them how to organize their process, how to put things together in a process and procedure and go from the beginning. It’s also to encourage them to listen to directions.”
Pam Breeden, branch assistant at the Medora library, said it was fun to see the kids create their desserts.
“I like to see them having something besides just playing, something that is thought provoking,” she said. “It was fun the last couple of weeks seeing the kids excited about it and getting geared up toward it.”
Anderson said the goal is to draw more kids into the library and for them to see it as a community place and learn about the different services it provides.
He said the library plans to do the competition in the spring, possibly having the kids make a dessert and a snack.
“I’m very, very pleased with the way it turned out and what they came up with,” he said. “I’m anxious to see it grow and get a few more people.”
To find out about events at the Seymour, Crothersville and Medora libraries, visit myjclibrary.org and click on “Program Calendar.”