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Concord Elementary chef receives silver medal at local cooking competition

Aerial view of Kuhlman stadium with water tower in foreground.

Each summer, staff at Edina Public Schools discover new ways to gain professional development. Chef Robert Velarde, food service kitchen manager at Concord Elementary is no exception. Velarde recently participated in the Green, Local and Sustainable Cooking Competition. The competition took place last month at the St. Paul Farmers Market and was sponsored by the Minneapolis chapter of the American Culinary Federation (ACF).

Velarde, who has been with Edina Public schools for 11 years, is a member of ACF and has competed in the competition for the past three years.  “I’ve earned bronze medals, but this is the first year I’ve earned a silver and a bronze,” Velarde said. The goal of the competition was to support local and sustainable foods and the farmers that produce them.

Competitors used fresh ingredients donated by farmers to make their dishes. They had one hour to complete four main entrée plates that included starch, meat, and vegetables. “The biggest challenge was working outdoors,” said Velarde. “I had two small propane burners, one chafer to keep things warm, and no electricity.”

The competition required quick thinking and creativity. ACF judges assessed and rated chefs on their culinary acumen. Velarde hopes to incorporate some of the skills he learned throughout the school year. “Cooking is really about planning and anticipating unforeseen circumstances,” said Velarde. “I know now how to change my menu to account for unexpected ingredients.”