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Datz hosts kickoff for national cooking contest

Some young Tampa cooks recently kicked off a national cooking contest for children, all while making a dish with their parents.

Under the direction of Datz restaurant chef Andy King, about 15 children and their parents and grandparents prepared Eggs Barbacoa to kick off the third annual Ben’s Beginners Cooking Contest, sponsored by Uncle Ben’s rice.

They combined black beans, pork, tortillas, tomatoes, cheese, rice and other ingredients in a cooking class Aug. 20 at the South Tampa restaurant, 2616 S. MacDill Ave.

They also heard from registered dietitian Lisa Dorfman about good eating habits while their creations baked in the restaurant’s oven.

The Tampa stop was the first of five cities chosen for kickoff events, said Matt Hurst, corporate affairs manager for Mars Food North America, the manufacturing company of Uncle Ben’s rice.

“It is a market where we have had a lot of interest in the contest in the past,” Hurst said. “We saw it as an opportunity to chat with as many people as possible.”

He said the idea behind the contest was to bring families together and encourage children to make healthy choices throughout their lives.

Roy McQueen brought his daughter, Laila, 4, a student at Primrose School of South Tampa, to the cooking class.

He told the class that he liked cooking with her “because of the interaction, the bonding.”

Blake Adler brought her daughter, Caidyn Sarah, 7, a Citrus Park Elementary School student, because she wanted to learn to cook.

“She has a passion,” Alder said.

Kickoffs also are occurring in Cincinnati, San Francisco, Boston and Atlanta for the national contest, which includes cash prizes and school kitchen makeovers.

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