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Chef Elijah Jones Wins Youth Cooking Challenge!

10 Year Old Elijah Jones Wins United Way’s Youth Cooking Challenge Presented by Excellus BlueCross BlueShield

April 16, 2019 – Utica NY – Elijah Jones, 10 year old from Poland, New York, has won United Way’s Youth Cooking Challenge Presented by Excellus BlueCross BlueShield.  
Jones was teamed up with local chef Tim Hardiman of The Tailor & the Cook, and faced off against co-finalist 12 year old Andrew Broadbent of Remsen, who was paired with local chef Melinda Thomas of Bagg's Square Cafe. 
The finale took place at Restaurant Equipment Equipment Corporation’s test kitchen and was shown live on United Way of the Valley & Greater Utica Area’s Facebook page.
Each team had one hour to prepare two dishes for a panel of judges. Last year's Youth Cooking Challenge winner, Olivia Cofano, participated as one of this year's judges. The judges tasted each dish from both contestants and Elijah Jones was declared the winner immediately following the tasting.  Jones' winning dishes were a scallop ceviche appetizer with a steak and vegetable bruschetta entree.  
Jones has won a cooking-themed basket valued at $250, donated by Boscov’s. Runner-up Andrew Broadbent has also won a cooking-themed basket, valued at $150.
Both Jones and Broadbent made it to the finals after a two-week online voting period by the public. The public’s score was added to the judges’ score from the first round of the Cooking Challenge. The first round consisted of seven youth chefs paired with seven local chefs, with each team having prepared one dish. Jones’ first-round dish was a pan roasted stuffed trout and runner-up Broadbent’s first-round dish was a balsamic strawberry grilled chicken.
The cooking challenge is a component of United Way of the Valley & Greater Utica Area’s health initiative with a focus on childhood health and wellness. 
“United Way of the Valley & Greater Utica Area is focused on increasing opportunities for our community to achieve health, education, and financial stability,” stated CEO, Erin Gutierrez Matt. “When we think about making our community stronger, we think about ways to impact families in a positive way. The Youth Cooking Challenge Presented by Excellus BlueCross BlueShield does that: this opportunity encouraged kids who are passionate about cooking to turn meal time into family time and to use healthy, local ingredients in their prep. We’re proud of each and every one of these kids. They came up with great dishes and demonstrated impressive cooking skills. We are also extremely thankful to the seven local chefs who volunteered their time and provided mentorship to each of their junior chefs. All of the teams had great chemistry! We hope each participant comes out of this event more aware of what United Way is doing to support families and health in our community.”
A special thank you to Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield, our health and wellness partner for this event.
This event is also made possible thanks to sponsors Capitol Arts Complex, Restaurant Equipment Equipment Corp., Townsquare Media, Oneida County BOCES Teachers Association, CNY Labor Council, Utica First Insurance Company, Mohawk Valley Community College Professional Association, Hannaford Supermarkets, and Berkshire Bank.