Howard County team competes in National 4-H Food Challenge finals

A team of Arkansas 4-H members celebrated National 4-H Week by competing in the National 4-H Food Challenge finals and returning home with a sixth-place win. Adelene Westfall, Sarah Lamb, and Christian Trombley—competing as the “Seniors with Spatulas”—competed against 10 other teams from Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas and Wyoming at the recent competition, held at the Texas State Fair in Dallas.

The Arkansas youth are members of the Howard County Teen Leader Club and longtime members of Arkansas 4-H. Westfall and Lamb, who attend Nashville High School, were part of the 2021 team that placed fifth at nationals last year. Trombley, a homeschooled student, joined the team this year. To qualify for the national competition, the teens won the Arkansas 4-H Food Challenge in August. Although they had hoped to win top honors, the trio felt good about their performance.

“Our dish was good, and we did a good presentation,” Lamb said. “We knew so much more this year than last year,” Westfall added. “We felt really good going into their competition.”

The Food Challenge not only tests participants’ cooking skills, but also their knowledge about nutrition, health and food safety and their ability to effectively communicate as a team. During the competition, the teams had 40 minutes to prepare a dish using the main ingredient—which wasn’t unveiled until the start of the competition.

After plating their dish, teams had five minutes to present their dish to judges and discuss food preparation, safety concerns, serving size information, cost analysis and nutritional information. Judges considered appearance, quality, creativity, effective communication, and teamwork when scoring.