Nine-year-old Rachel Raines became interested in cooking the same way many kids do: watching Mom prepare tasty meals in the family kitchen.
"I started helping her, and I really enjoyed it," said Rachel, who attends in Redmond.
These days, however, Rachel is taking the lead with her own cooking. Her marinated tomato pasta received "Judges' Choice" honors at the Kids Can Cook Competition, a event that was held Wednesday at .
Twenty children from all over the district participated in the competition, which required the young chefs to prepare a dish from their own recipes. Judges evaluated each entry based on table presentation, healthiness and kid-friendliness.
Brie Smith, a registered dietitian who served as one of the competition's three judges, said she liked how the children used "fat replacers," such as mango puree and apple sauce, to make healthier baked items.
"I'm just really impressed with the innovative recipes," Smith said. "It's really exciting to see kids take the lead and make some excellent, tasty food."
Competition organizers also hope the event encourages kids to take the initiative in making healthy snacks at home. Officials make an extra effort to teach the contest participants about cooking safety and sanitation, said Kurt Stierle, an area manager for Sodexo and one of the competition judges.
For parents like Carrie Wilkinson, who has six children, teaching kids how to cook is a matter of necessity. She said her daughter Jaime, who was awarded most healthy dish for her veggie roll-ups, was exposed to cooking at a young age.
"She's got it down," Carrie Wilkinson said of her daughter's culinary skills. "We all sort of do it together — we kind of have to."