A South Carolina elementary school student has one of the best dessert recipes in the country.
Chandler Dorn is the winner of the 2022 Sodexo Future Chefs Challenge. Sodexo, the sponsor of the competition, is a food service company that manages kitchens in schools across the country, and for the last 11 years has sponsored the competition for students at the schools it serves to promote cooking to children.
The fifth grader from Springdale Elementary School found out recently when her win was announced in front of her classmates, her brother and representatives from her school’s cafeteria.
“The lady was announcing it to the whole class, and at first she made it sound like I lost, but then she said I won,” Chandler told The State. “My friends were screaming so loud their faces turned beat red.”
Chandler was named the winner of the Lexington 2 cooking competition in March, after 16 elementary-aged finalists prepared their meals for Sodexo judges at the district’s innovation center. Each dish was themed around a book or movie. The 11-year-old won with a dish she called Snow White and the Seven-Layer Trifle, a layered dessert cake with a variety of ingredients.
“It has three components,” Chandler said. “First Greek yogurt, and I added honey, cinnamon and vanilla to it; then honey-crisp apples, and cinnamon, vanilla, maple syrup and butter; and then the granola is oats, cinnamon and butter.”
Chandler was surprised to be one of the first contestants to finish her entry at the district competition, using only half the hour each contestant was given to finish their meal. That’s probably because of the amount of at-home practice she got ahead of time.
“We ate this multiple nights in a row,” said Chandler’s mom, Jessica Dorn.
The district level was the last one for which Chandler had to bake in person. In the regional round, Lexington 2’s representative only had to submit a recipe for her trifle virtually, while for the national competition Sodexo representatives helped her film a video back at the Lexington 2 innovation center.
Chandler has long enjoyed baking and cooking at home, and is a fan of baking shows. She tried to enter the future chef challenge as a third-grader, but wasn’t selected for the district-level cooking competition. But she was still shocked to finish first at the national level.
“I think my mouth just dropped open,” Chandler said.
Chandler will now serve as a Sodexo ambassador for the next school year and receive a national prize. She doesn’t know what that is yet, but after the district competition she was sent a new set of pots and pans, a FitBit and a cookbook.
Now with a renewed bit of confidence, Chandler is thinking about other cakes she can make. She already runs her own mini-baking business selling treats to friends on Facebook, and her mother suggested a new use for her now award-winning seven-layered trifle.
“This could be the first entry in her cookbook,” Jessica Dorn said.