Falls North Middle School students face off in 'Top Chef' challenge

Max Georges adds an egg to the mix while Jacob Prout stirs the pot as they compete in Menomonee Falls North Middle School’s “Top Chef” event Monday.

Max Georges adds an egg to the mix while Jacob Prout stirs the pot as they compete in Menomonee Falls North Middle School’s “Top Chef” event Monday. Photo By Dave Haberkorn

Nov. 19, 2012

Menomonee Falls - The smell of bacon and the sweet scent of chocolate wafted into the halls of North Middle School on Monday as students faced off in a 'Top Chef' challenge.

A trio of teachers who are going through the National Board Certification process were forced to get creative with their teaching methods in an effort to connect with students and the community. Part of the process also necessitated teacher collaboration, while meeting standards within their individual fields and North's 'Top Chef' challenge was born.

On Monday, that collaboration came to life for the teachers' sixth period students. Pauline Quest's family and consumer science students split into four teams of chefs. Two teams competed on Monday, the others on Tuesday. The teams raced against the clock to create tasty and aesthetically pleasing dishes for their restaurants with recipes they created.

Chris Schraeder's language arts students tasted the food and served as critics. They will write a persuasive essay as to why people should or should not eat at the restaurants. Jim Nitz's computer application class created a web page for each restaurant. One restaurant each day will be crowned top chef by a judge's panel that included parents, administrators and local business leaders. The top website and top critique will also be chosen.

"The process forced us to look at ways to involve parents and community and staff and really make education very hands-on, applicable and a real world experience so we came up with this idea of how we can run the 'Top Chef,' " Quest said.

As Quest's students came up with ideas for restaurants, such as "Title Town," that made unique recipes including bacon pancakes, Nitz's class brought the restaurant to life with a website.

The chefs may find tough critics in Schraeder's class. One student jotted down "service is delayed," as he waited for his chocolate pancakes.

Middle school student Baylee Holt said the Ghirardelli chocolate pancakes made by "M.A.G.S. Pancake House" were good, but a bit too sweet.

"It was a sugar overload," said her peer and critic Christina Dillon.

Schraeder's students have spent much time preparing to write food critiques by reading pieces from professional authors and writers.

"My other four classes are doing a more traditional assignment and writing a persuasive essay," Schraeder said. "These kids are more enthusiastic about the whole writing process and the reading process."

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