COVINGTON - Trenton Jenkins, a 13-year-old from Covington, spent a lot of quality time with his family in the kitchen this summer.
The rising eighth-grader loves to cook, something that surprises many of his friends.
"Most people I hang out with would never think so," he said. "I'm athletic, and my friends would never think that I can cook."
But now that he's an award-winning cook, that's going to have to change.
Earlier this summer, the student won the fourth annual Teen Iron Chef Competition at the Newton County Library with a fruit spread for graham crackers and a jalapeno zucchini tomato spread with a yogurt base on pita bread.
"It was my first competition," he said. "I was just hoping to place higher than fourth (out of four competitors)."
The teen has been interested in cooking since he was 2 years old, but his parents started letting him in the kitchen more when he was 11.
"He just started showing an interest in cooking; he was always up under me in the kitchen," his mother Roshonna said.
When he turned 11, he started helping his father on the grill, and his mother wasn't afraid of grease popping on his head in the kitchen, so she let him become more involved in cooking dinner and desserts.
"I love his cooking, and it helps him be more responsible," his mother said. "I know when he has to go off to college or to live on his own that he will know how to cook and that will help him be a good husband and father."
Jenkins said cooking - whether at home or at school during Family and Consumer Sciences - serves as a stress reliever for him.
"If something is going wrong or if I'm just bored, I feel safe and relaxed," he said.
Sometimes he tells his mom what to buy at the grocery store, but sometimes he simply looks through the pantry to come up with his own creation.
His favorite things to make are desserts, as well as spreads and seasonings for various dishes.
Although he hopes to one day go to college and play football, he always plans to keep cooking in his life - whether as a hobby or as a career option.
For now, he's looking forward to finding more cooking competitions to enter.
"I had a good time (at the library), so I'm looking forward to doing more of that in the future," he said.
Until then, he knows that practice is the answer to becoming a better cook. Also, he hopes to teach his younger sister and brothers how to cook when they get a little older.
"Cooking is fun for the family," Roshonna said.
Michelle Floyd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SideBar: Cookie Covered minis
Cookie Covered Minis
By Trenton Jenkins
1 Box Waffle Minis
1 Pack Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
1 Bottle Chocolate Syrup
1 Can of Whipped Cream
1 Jar of Cherries
Break mini waffles into individual waffles.
Take a spoonful of chocolate chip cookie dough and spread over individual waffles.
Place in oven for 12 minutes on 350 degrees.
Let cool (about 5 minutes) to let cookie settle on top of waffle.
Place the cookie covered mini on a plate and drizzle with chocolate syrup.
Top with whipped cream and cherries.