165 sandwiches later, Aurora crowns Top Healthy Chef

Take a slice of pepper jack cheese, leaf lettuce, chipotle pepper, tomato, bacon and ham along with mayonnaise and avocado spread, add in a dill pickle and a 12-year-old hockey fan, and what do you have?

A “Hockey Special” – the winning creation in this year’s Top Healthy Chef Sandwich Competition.

Teegan Mathey, a sixth grader from Bednarcik Junior High School in Oswego, has been named the Top Healthy Chef winner in the annual culinary competition involving 165 student entries from nine middle schools in the Aurora area.

The Top Chef competition was launched three years ago to make learning about healthy eating fun and interactive for middle school students participating in the citywide MyTime after-school programs of Communities In Schools and local school districts. In previous years, Top Chef looked for the Top Healthy Salad and the Top Healthy Pizza.

An outgrowth of the Kane County Health Department’s Fit Kids 2020 plan, Top Chef involves several community agencies active in fighting childhood obesity. One of their initiatives, the MyTime program, is held at middle schools in the East Aurora, West Aurora, Indian Prairie and Oswego school districts, with more than 300 students participating.

For the Top Healthy Chef Sandwich Competition, Aurora University School of Nursing students made nutrition presentations for the MyTime middle-schoolers, conducted interactive demonstrations, education on healthy choices, and on creating a healthy sandwich.

All entries had a French Bread Baguette as the base of the sandwich. Participants could choose up to 10 ingredients out of 43 options. A total of 165 sandwich recipe entries were submitted by the students, with the number pared down to the top 10 finalists.

Each school then featured a sandwich-tasting contest, with MyTime students sampling the top sandwiches from their district and selecting the sandwiches for the final competition. The event’s sandwich sponsor, Sodexo of Aurora University, provided 175 sandwiches for sampling.

The final round took place this month at the Prisco Center, with local educators and officials enjoying the sandwiches and serving as judges. The panel of judges included: Clayton Muhammad, City of Aurora; Barbara Jeffers, Executive Director of the Kane County Health Department; Christine Crouch, representing Aurora University; Tony Martinez, West Aurora School District; Christi Tyler, East Aurora School District; Jason Altenbern, Indian Prairie School District; and Marc Arakelian, Oswego School District.

Each final contestant created a sandwich with their winning ingredients and told why their ingredients made the sandwich a healthy choice. When Top Chef committee member Amy Seyller mentioned a dill pickle as one of the ingredients of the winning sandwich, Teegan Mathey’s face lit up with a bright smile.
Teegan said she named her sandwich the “Hockey Special” because “It is a great sandwich to eat when you’re watching a hockey game and I have been playing hockey for seven years – starting when I was 5- years-old”.

Other Top Chef finalists were: Karina Mondragon of East Aurora’s Waldo Middle School; Justice McDowell of Indian Prairie’s Still Middle School; and Denise Martinez of West Aurora’s Herget Middle School.

Partners and committee members for the Top Healthy Chef Sandwich Competition were: Sherry Eagle, Shawn Green, Deanna Sommers, Chris Bruhn and Doug Stenfeldt from Aurora University; Angie Marchand, Buchar Family Chiropractic; Amy Seyller, Boy Scouts of America; Dan Barreiro, City of Aurora; Karen Harkness, Communities In Schools of Aurora; Debbie Smith, Fox Valley Park District; and Zaida Rodriguez, Rush-Copley Medical Center. Funding was provided by the Kane County Fit for Kids Funders Consortium.

For more information, contact Karen Harkness at 630-256-4505 or Dan Barreiro at 630-256-3401.