GENEVA – Ella Madden spread vanilla pudding on vanilla wafers, the first step to making a cool design.
“I’m going to use Skittles to make a face or something,” said Madden, an 11-year-old Geneva resident.
Emma Nihill, also 11, said she was doing a twist on an ice cream cake.
“Instead of ice cream, I’m going to use different toppings, like pudding basically,” Nihill said. “And so … I’m going to put pudding on top of the graham cracker and then Skittles. And then I’m going to put another graham cracker and another thing of pudding. Or maybe I’ll do, like, Hershey’s chocolate, or I’ll do, like, M&M’s.”
Nihill and Madden were among 26 Geneva middle schoolers in sixth through ninth grade who participated in the Geneva Public Library’s Iron Chef event, a competition challenging students to make snacks from unlikely combinations.
Middle school librarian Kylie Peters ran the event, with help from staff members Sarah Karch and Martha Sullivan. The name is a takeoff of “Iron Chef America,” a show on the Food Network.
The choice of materials included Rainbow Nerds, Skittles, Sour Patch Kids, cheese puffs, colored sugar, blueberries, vegetarian refried beans, vanilla wafers, graham crackers, carrots and celery.
Eight categories in the competition ranged from Best Presentation to Best Dish Depicting a Scene or Story, to Best Flavor and Grossest Dish.
The variety of items allowed all participants to let their imaginations – and their palates – run wild.
Reiss Christensen, 11, hollowed out some fresh strawberries and inserted chocolate frosting for a sweet treat.
As the contest continued, Christensen had enough time to use an inverted waffle bowl to create a turtle, using Sour Patch Kids for the head and feet.
Brandon Cowhey, 11, filled a flour tortilla with refried beans and shredded cheese to make a fair-looking burrito. Lacking cilantro, however, Cowhey shredded raw celery as a substitute – then added blueberries and hot sauce as sides.
Griffin May, 11, used wafers glued together with marshmallow fluff and Dots gumdrops in between.
“I’m aiming for the Best Sweet,” May said.
Adrianna Gonnella, 14, slit open a banana and stuffed it with chocolate chips, marshmallow and vanilla pudding, with crumbled vanilla wafers.
Lorraine Kern, 14, filled a waffle bowl with chocolate pudding, topped it with whipped cream, inserted apple slices and then sprinkled Rainbow Nerds and chocolate chips over it.
Sydney Hostasa, 11, ran into technical difficulties when she tried to chop up Cheetos, mustard and Cheez Whiz together in a blender, as the ingredients were too dry.
Also in line to use the blender were 11-year-old Avery Olds – who wanted to mix cheese puffs, mustard and hot sauce – while Trinity Spradlin, 11, planned to blend blueberries and strawberries.
Nora Tresemer, 11, covered an inverted ice cream cone with vanilla pudding to create a scene of a mouse with a little hat.
Sarah Carter, 13, created a dessert burrito with chocolate pudding, marshmallows, M&M’s, frosting and sprinkles, and swirled chocolate sauce on top.
Jenna Conrad, 11, built a house out of graham crackers using frosting for glue and M&M’s and Dots gumdrops for decoration.
Chloe Daly, 11, used a plastic knife to chop up the raw celery to put on top of a Pop-Tart covered in vanilla pudding.
“I’m going for the Grossest Dish,” Daly said.
The following were winners in the Geneva Public Library Iron Chef competition:
Best Presentation: Reiss Christensen
Best Flavor: Emma Nihill
Best Sweet Treat: Abigail Harper
Best Savory Snack: Peyton Gilchrist
Best Dish Depicting a Scene or Story: Jenna Conrad
Best Healthy Dish: Grace Cieslikowski and Grace Kosirog – a tie
Grossest Dish: Lorraine Kern
Bravest: Sydney Hostasa – for the participant with the grossest dish he or she was willing to eat