Tasty entrees await the judges in the cooking contest at Shelyn Elementary School in Rowland Heights.
Photo Gallery: Chefs sizzle this summer

The T-bone steaks glistened on the countertop, herbs and spices peppering the top choice. The 10-year-old chefs waited anxiously to grill their entrees.

The succulent steaks were only a small part of the "Iron Chef" competition that the culinary whiz kids were preparing.

The contest, held July 8 and 9, culminated the nutrition class offered by the Rowland Unified School District at Shelyn Elementary School.

Instructor Natalie Miano flitted around the kitchen checking on the different teams.

"Here, use this skillet to sear that," Miano

Rowland Nutrition Educator Natalie Miano, right, critiques her young chefs.
told the budding gourmands.

The young cooks carefully prepared what they hoped would prove to be their winning menus.

Lori Lara, 10, and Jeremy Dela Victoria had just finished baking the crust for their Grape and Fruit Pizza. They couldn't wait for the pie to cool, so they could add the fruit to the colorful dessert.

Shrimp seemed to be the most popular appetizer.

Not content with simply "putting shrimp on the barbie," the SHORT-order cooks tried various marinades to give their crustaceans some kick.

The Royal Cuisine team decided to go with an Italian menu. They were making Fritto Misto with calamari and shrimp.

Denise Batres was helping her 11-year-old daughter Mikaela. The two had just

pulled the cannelloni from the food processor. They laid the long strips of pasta on a nearby table.

Teammates Meanna Gray and Ceci Chu said they were making creme brulee for the dessert.

Carefully aiming a small butane torch, teacher Miano noted "The heat will caramelize the sugar crust."

During the summer class, students cooked almost every day, trying cuisines from many different cultures.

"I liked the five-spice Vietnamese chicken the best," reported

Nicole Tan waits anxiously as the judges taste her creation.
10-year-old Jasmine Ang.

Sushi was also a favorite. Liay Kawachi and Kirsty Choi loved making the popular Japanese dish.

These Iron Chefs even had unusual names for their teams. Take the Vegetable Hippies Around the World.

Keegan Mejia said this was her second year in the summer course.

"My mom's a really good cook, so I wanted to take the cooking class this summer," said 11-year-old Jade Obena, who admits to cooking a little stir-fry herself.

Brandon Sandoval was taking the competition seriously. The 10-year-old doused skirt steak in a tangy marinade, so he could make fajitas the next day.

"We thought we would go with a Mexican theme," Sandoval said.

The Crazy Fruits were stuck on coconuts. But then, their Indian theme called for the tropical fruit.

Teammates Tony Sun and Arbie Fradejas said they were also using the spice cardamom. Their main dish was chicken.

Shelyn Principal Sarah Opatkiewicz stopped by to help judge the competition.

"I've been visiting two to three times a week and they've been cooking almost every day. They also learned about proper nutrition as well as the importance of exercising," Opatkiewicz said.

The young chefs still had another day of cooking left. But winning took a back seat to flavor as everyone enjoyed sampling the recipes the different teams had chosen.

And the T-bone steaks were delicious!

richard.irwin@sgvn.com

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