Library to premiere teen cooking contest

COVINGTON -- Any Newton County teens who have ever wanted to compete in a food contest now have the chance to do so locally.

The Newton County Library is holding its first cooking competition for teens, the Teen Chopped Cook Off, from 6:15 to 7:15 p.m. Nov. 19.

"This is a spin-off from the Food Network show, 'Chopped,'" said Brenda Poku, young adult coordinator at the library.

The event will start off with up to six or eight contestants. In each round, they will be provided with several everyday food ingredients -- which they won't know ahead of time -- and have a certain amount of time to create an extraordinary snack or meal.

Since they are competing in the library, contestants can use only certain appliances like a microwave and blender.

"But you would be amazed at how creative they get," Poku said.

After each round, one contestant will be "chopped," and, therefore, no longer able to compete. The remaining contestants will go on to the next round until only one contestant is left standing as the winner.

"And we will give them a token of our appreciation," Poku said.

This is the first time the library has held the teen Chopped competition -- for the past several years, it has held the Iron Chef competition.

Library officials came up with this idea after a successful Iron Chef competition last year, won by then 13-year-old Trenton Jenkins, and as a different competition for teens and a way to get them to collaborate after seeing suggestions from library customers.

"We're always looking for ways to bring teens into the library," Poku said. "A lot of teens really enjoy cooking, and we want to foster their love for it. ... Even if teens choose not to participate, we hope they will at least come to watch."

Tweens and teens -- students in middle and high school -- must register for the competition by Monday by calling the library at 770-385-6444 or visiting the library, which is located at 7116 Floyd St. in Covington. More Information is available at www.newton.public.lib.ga.us/teen-zone or by calling the library.

Poku said she hopes to continue the teen food competitions in the future, based on participation.

"We hope so," she said. "This is our trial run, so we'll see how it goes."

The library also plans to hold the Iron Chef competition in the late spring.