Cinnamon apple biscuits the big winner at cook-off


Sophia Walker gets help chopping pecans from Moss Crutchfield while preparing her Fall Time Surprise pancakes during the Breakfast Recipe Contest and Cook Off at Lincoln Middle School on Wednesday.

Matt Stamey/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Wednesday, March 6, 2013 at 9:45 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, March 6, 2013 at 9:45 p.m.

Although the cafeteria didn't hum with the daily lunchtime rush, Kelsey Nimmons sliced biscuit dough as Sophia Walker mixed eggs and flour quickly.

Nimmons, a eighth-grader from Kanapaha Middle School, shook slices of dough in a plastic bag with cinnamon and sugar. Walker, a sixth-grader from P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School, placed pecans in round heaps of pancake batter on the skillet.

Around 7 p.m. in the Lincoln Middle School cafeteria, it was time for breakfast.

The middle-schoolers faced off Wednesday night in the Alachua County school district's Breakfast Recipe Cook-Off, an event organized to celebrate National School Breakfast Week by allowing students to compete with their own breakfast recipes.

Shereka O'Neal, a food and nutrition services specialist who served as organizer of the event, said district officials reviewed recipes submitted by interested students before choosing three to compete for first place.

One of the contestants could not make the cook-off because of another engagement, so Nimmons and Walker went head to head in the Lincoln kitchen, with district food service manager Moss Crutchfield overseeing the young chefs.

"I was really impressed," he later said. "It's sort of a candid snapshot of what they enjoy making for themselves."

Walker prepared what she called Fall Time Surprise — pancakes with pecans and apples in them sprinkled with pumpkin pie spice. Nimmons approached her biscuits in the style of monkey bread, with cinnamon and apples worked into the biscuits.

Before presenting their culinary creations to four judges, Walker lined her pancakes with pecans and placed a thin apple slice in the center as garnish while Nimmons arranged her biscuits in a neat pile.

The contestants were judged on the taste, texture, creativity of presentation and overall appeal of their dishes.

After breakfast was served and scores were tallied, Nimmons came out ahead with her biscuits.

The aspiring chef had tears welling up in her eyes as she thanked her grandmother for her love of cooking.

"Grandma actually inspired me to cook," she said.

Nimmons won recognition, as her recipe will be adapted to be added to the district's school breakfast menu, as well as a basketball signed by the entire Orlando Magic NBA team.

Afterward, she said she felt Wednesday's biscuits were the best she'd done yet.

"They were fantastic," she said.

Eunshil McKenna, food service supervisor for the district, a registered dietitian and one of Wednesday's judges, called both dishes flavorful and creative.

"Not the regular eggs and bacon," she said.

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