Press Releases

Montgomery County Junior Chef team

Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles presents the Farm to School Junior Chef championship trophy to the Montgomery County team: from left, Gabby Hovatter, MacKenzie Green, Joy Pidgorodetska, and Hayden Holley. (Kentucky Department of Agriculture photo)


Montgomery County Junior Chef team captures the coveted skillet trophy


Boyle County, Pikeville, and Henderson round out the final four


For Immediate Release
Friday, August 26, 2016
For more information contact:
Angela Blank
(502) 573-0450


LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Montgomery County prevailed over Boyle County by a knife’s edge in the fourth annual Farm to School Junior Chef championship cook off Friday at the Kentucky State Fair.

“Congratulations to Montgomery County for an outstanding job throughout the competition,” Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles said. “This year’s tournament was perhaps the most competitive we’ve ever had, and that reflects the growing enthusiasm for this program throughout the Commonwealth. We appreciate all the coaches who took some of their valuable time to work with their student teams, and we’re especially grateful to our partners at Sullivan University for increasing their commitment to this program.”

The Montgomery County team of Hayden Holley, Joy Pidgorodetska, MacKenzie Green, and Gabby Hovatter prepared Farmer’s Choice Dirty Rice to win over a panel of three judges from Sullivan University. The Boyle County team – Sidney Darnell, Samantha Stewart, Mady Thomas, and Chandler Lane – prepared Barbeque Pork Tacos with Apple Poppy Seed Coleslaw to reach the final match.

Each Montgomery County member won the opportunity for an $8,000 scholarship from Sullivan University plus cook books and a $150 cash prize from John Wiley & Sons. John Wiley will provide its text books free of charge to any Montgomery County member who enrolls at Sullivan. Montgomery County will demonstrate its dish at the first Farm to School Southeast Region meeting in September in Greenville, South Carolina.

Each Boyle County member won the opportunity for a $5,000 scholarship from Sullivan. Members of Pikeville Independent and Henderson County, the other semi-finalists, each won the opportunity for a $3,000 scholarship from Sullivan plus cook books.

Hayden Holley was named Top Chef of the tournament and won an additional $2,000 scholarship offer from Sullivan and a cash award from John Wiley.

Junior Chef encourages high school students to learn how to cook by using local ingredients to prepare healthy meals while teaching students about agriculture, marketing, organization, teamwork, and community involvement.

The Junior Chef season begins with district competition in the spring and continues with regional matches to determine the teams that will advance to the state tournament. Junior Chef teams are made up of three to five students in grades 9-12.

The Junior Chef competition is part of the Kentucky Proud Farm to School Program, which helps Kentucky schools purchase local foods to serve to their students. Children get fresh, nutritious foods to help them grow up healthy and strong. Local farmers get another market for their farm products.

The Farm to School Program and the Junior Chef competition are administered by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture. For more information, contact Tina Garland, the KDA’s Farm to School Program Administrator, at (502) 382-7505 or, or visit