Nine-year-old Rachel Raines became interested in cooking the same way many kids do: watching Mom prepare tasty meals in the family kitchen.
"I started helping her, and I really enjoyed it," said Rachel, who attends in Redmond.
These days, however, Rachel is taking the lead with her own cooking. Her marinated tomato pasta received "Judges' Choice" honors at the Kids Can Cook Competition, a event that was held Wednesday at .
For Sammamish student, Kira Mattes, food and family also went together.
"When I was little, my mom used to cook in front of me," the 10-year-old who attends said.
How did she come up with the idea of what to make on Wednesday?
"I just thought of it 'cause I like pizzas," she said.
Twenty children from all over the district participated in the competition, which required the young chefs to prepare a dish from their own recipes. Judges evaluated each entry based on table presentation, healthiness and kid-friendliness.
Brie Smith, a registered dietitian who served as one of the competition's three judges, said she liked how the children used "fat replacers," such as mango puree and apple sauce, to make healthier baked items.
"I'm just really impressed with the innovative recipes," Smith said. "It's really exciting to see kids take the lead and make some excellent, tasty food."
Competition organizers also hope the event encourages kids to take the initiative in making healthy snacks at home. Officials make an extra effort to teach the contest participants about cooking safety and sanitation, said Kurt Stierle, an area manager for Sodexo and one of the competition judges.
For parents like Carrie Wilkinson, who has six children, teaching kids how to cook is a matter of necessity. She said her daughter Jaime, who was awarded most healthy dish for her veggie roll-ups, was exposed to cooking at a young age.
"She's got it down," Carrie Wilkinson said of her daughter's culinary skills. "We all sort of do it together — we kind of have to."
Here is a list of the Sammamish students who participated in the event - and what food they made:Student School Food Prepared Nicole Adams Christa McAuliffe Elementary pumpkin bars Karli Hammack Christa McAuliffe Elementary sweet potato pie Sam R. Marks Christa McAuliffe Elementary The Waffler Max Villeux Christa McAuliffe Elementary gluten-free quesadilla Betty Park Samantha Smith Elementary A Cute Fruit Salad Kira Mattes Samantha Smith Elementary mini pizzas Connie Hsu Samantha Smith Elementary Banana Bread Maddy Fletcher Margaret Mead Elementary Fruity Waffle Sundaes Aaron Koenders Margaret Mead Elementary Stuffed Cucumber Cups Samantha Clark Margaret Mead Elementary Blasting Berry Smoothie
Editor's note: Caitlin Moran is the editor of Redmond Patch. Also, it appears that students named what they created on Wednesday.