Source: Grosse Pointe News Online

Acclaim continues for Future Chef

by A.J. Hakim Staff Writer

June 13, 2013

Acclaim for Imran Mihas continued Tuesday, June 4, at an all-school assembly. Representatives from Sodexo flew in from around the country to congratulate the Maire Elementary School fourth grader on winning the company’s 2013 Future Chefs: Healthy Salad Challenge.

Mihas’s Tortilla Cup Salad garnered 48 percent of the 26,539 total votes on the national competition’s YouTube channel, more than any of the other four national finalists.

His salad, a variation of his mother’s original vegetarian recipe, is a combination of garbanzo beans, black beans, cucumber, mango, tomato, corn, cilantro and grilled chicken, served in a tortilla cup.

“It was a really, really great achievement,” said 14-year-old Chef Remmi Smith, Sodexo’s Student Ambassador for Health and Wellness and representative for the Future Chefs program.

Smith was one of about 20 representatives on hand at the assembly. Among others were several executive chefs; Sandra Perry, senior marketing specialist; Brian Finn, regional marketing director; John White, district manager; and Michelle Knotts, general manager and director of services in the Grosse Pointe Public School System. Knotts presented Mihas with several prizes courtesy of Sodexo.

“Sodexo prides itself around our pillars of success,” Knotts said. “We have five pillars of success, and what we decided to do is, when we were thinking about some wonderful prizes for Imran, we wanted to design them around those.”

For its first pillar, community, Sodexo organized the all-school assembly; for activity, a GoPro Camera, for nutrition, a juicer, cookbook and vintage popcorn machine; for environment, a vegetable garden starter kit and $50 gift card to Home Depot; and for achievement, an Acer laptop.

“It was a great experience for me to join the Sodexo Future Chef contest, right from the school to the national level, and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank my family, my staff, my friends and the whole Maire school,” Mihas said.

Sodexo’s Future Chefs program started in 2011 with a healthy snacks challenge for elementary-aged students. Last year, the challenge shifted to middle school and to healthy and nutritious breakfast items.

This year’s competition featured more than 6,000 healthy salad recipes from more than 1,000 students in 110 local events. A panel of school chefs narrowed local winners to 27 regional winners, where a panel of executive chefs cut the number to five finalists.

It was the Grosse Pointe schools’ first time participating in the program.

“Not only was it our first year, but we ended up winning the national future chef,” Knotts said. “I mean, how awesome is that?”