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Crosswinds student's contest entry could cook up new cafeteria

This screen shot from Joe Anderson's video displays him cooking his No Leftovers Sweet and Sour Chicken meal. (Submitted image)

A local lad and his pig are stumping for votes. But it has nothing to do with the November election.

Joe Anderson, 12, of Cottage Grove, made a video that he entered in a national youth cooking contest sponsored by Uncle Ben’s Rice. And if he gets enough online votes, he could win a new cafeteria for Crosswinds Arts and Science School in Woodbury, where he is in the seventh grade.

“For the last couple of years they were having trouble staying open because of their funding,” Joe said. “And I thought, ‘Hey, maybe I can help my school.’”

The voting ends one minute before midnight Wednesday, Oct. 29.

Five finalists in the Ben’s Beginners Cooking Contest will be awarded $15,000 as well as a $30,000 cafeteria makeover for their school. The contest is intended to promote healthy eating habits by encouraging kids and parents to cook together. But it’s the kids who are the stars of the videos, which are posted on the contest website. The rules require each young chef to play show-and-tell for the camera as they demonstrate how to cook a rice-based recipe that they created.

Joe’s entry is titled No Leftovers Sweet and Sour Chicken and Rice. His mother, Tessa, shot the video in the family kitchen. Her son seems comfortable on camera as he puts together the ingredients and fires up the stove. After finishing, he conducts a taste test with his brother Sam. Joe also feeds rice to his pet pig, Poinker.

The votes account for 25 percent of the judging, according to the contest website. Judges will also evaluate each child’s personality, knowledge of food and the creativity and healthfulness of the recipe.

The video has created a buzz at Crosswinds and generated at least one Facebook posting from a teacher, Tessa Anderson said.

“They’re all rallying for him,” she said. “It’s been exciting.”

If he wins, Joe said he would use his share of the prize money to pay for college.

The 25 finalists will be announced Nov. 12, according to the contest website. The five grand prize winners will be announced in December.

To watch and vote, go to: http://t.co/NyXEREOgMB. Voters must be over 18.

William Loeffler

William Loeffler is a playwright and journalist from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He worked 15 years writing features for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He has also written travel stories based on his trips to all seven continents. He and his wife, Michelle, ran the Boston Marathon in 2009. 

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