Sixteen students from Calcasieu, Cameron and Beauregard parishes competed in the 2019 Cal-Cam Rice Growers Association Rice Cookoff Wednesday, Sept. 18, at the Port of Lake Charles.
The event was held in conjunction with National Rice Month.
When the judges put down their forks, they decided Danon Jackson, of Moss Bluff Middle School, had the winning dish with her Seafood Risotto.
Jackson’s dish was cooked in a pressure cooker, and she said she had help formulating the recipe from her parents, especially her father. “I wouldn’t have been able to do this with without his help.”
She used medium-grain rice instead of traditional risotto rice and included the “holy trinity” of Cajun cooking — bell peppers, onions and celery –along with crab and shrimp.
Jackson, an eighth grader, said she likes to cook but is leaning more toward an engineering career than something in the kitchen.
Her teacher, Renee LaRocque, said Danon had to win her school competition before she advanced to the Cal-Cam cookoff.
Other winners were Zachariah Bleichroth, a Vinton High student who was awarded second place for his Green Rice Casserole, and Paige Laughlin, a Starks High student who won third place with her Cozy Cocoa Rice Pudding. Makala Snyder, of Johnson Bayou High, won the Heart Healthy category with her Bayou Stuffed Bell Peppers.
Other students participating were Abby Parker, of Sulphur High; Anna Shuff, of South Beauregard High; Brayden Ervin, of Sulphur High; Emalee Reinke, of Westlake High; Kimmy Manuel, of Hackberry High; Jayla Coleman, of Iowa High; Jacob Bertrand, of DeQuincy High; Cameron Hickerson, of Barbe High; Brooke Fontenot, of Sam Houston High; Kaylee Webb, of Bell City High; Bliss Stollsteimer, of Iowa Middle; and Kiley Sibille, of South Cameron High.
All students received a variety of gifts, including a rice cooker donated by Farmers Rice Milling and a gift bag from USA Rice. Winners received cash prizes from the Calcasieu-Cameron Rice Growers Association.
The Port of Lake Charles sponsored a meal and tour of the port for students and teachers, and they saw a ship being loaded with milled rice bound for Iraq.
Judges for the events were Jonathan Ringo, of the Port of Lake Charles; Shatonia McCarty, of the LSU AgCenter Calcasieu Parish office; and Raquel Landry, of the Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation.