Independence Middle School Chefs Win 2024 Mystery Chef Battle with…

March 6, 2024

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio – Culinary creativity was the secret ingredient that propelled the catering staff at Independence Middle School to victory in the 2024 Mystery Chef Competition. Competing against school kitchen teams across Northeast Ohio, chefs Barb Basnett and Helena Casserlie crafted an original menu that wowed judges and students alike. Their South of the Border recipe, concocted from a box of mystery ingredients, secured them the top honors in this closely watched culinary challenge.


A Recipe for Success

The competition, a collaborative effort between Pisanick Partners and Gordon Foods, challenged participants to think outside the box – literally. Given a selection of ingredients that included , among others, the Independence duo demonstrated exceptional creativity and culinary skill. Their winning dish not only impressed the judges but also received rave reviews from the students and staff who had the pleasure of sampling the creations.

Spotlight on School Culinary Talent


Following their win, Basnett and Casserlie will have the opportunity to prepare their winning menu at Sandridge Crafted Foods’ professional kitchen in Medina. This recognition goes beyond a simple competition victory; it highlights the importance of nutritious and appealing meals in school cafeterias. Furthermore, their recipes will gain wider recognition by being featured on Health-e Pro’s menu planning website and in an upcoming “What’s Up Wednesday Live” video on Pisanick Partners’ YouTube Channel, showcasing the impact of innovative school meal programs.

Encouraging Reading Through Cuisine

In a delightful twist, Independence Primary School simultaneously hosted a ‘Camp Out with a Good Book’ event, encouraging students to dive into the world of reading. This initiative, running parallel to the culinary competition, emphasized the school’s commitment to fostering a love for reading among students. The event, which took place from February 26 to March 1, allowed students to explore their favorite books in cozy, camp-like settings, further enriching the educational experience at Independence Schools.

Through the lens of these events, it’s clear that Independence Schools are not only places of academic learning but also communities where creativity, healthy eating, and a love for reading are nurturally cultivated. The success of the catering staff in the Mystery Chef Competition, paired with the enthusiastic participation in the reading campout, underscores the vibrant spirit that thrives within these educational institutions. As these initiatives gain recognition, they set a promising example for schools nationwide to explore innovative ways to engage and inspire their students both in and out of the classroom.

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