Winnipeg’s best sandwich a classroom creation

Wrap of Awesomeness team: Kimberly, Miranda, Shay, and Kysha.

For Mario Cueto’s students, entering the Recipe for Success sandwich contest was a classroom-wide endeavor – and it paid off.

A team of four Grade 6 students from Cueto’s Strathcona School class recently took top prize in the Recipe for Success Video Cooking Contest with their creation, the Wrap of Awesomeness.

The foursome didn’t do it alone. Cueto organized a ‘Top Chef’ styled competition for all his students; other teachers and some younger students judged the sandwiches and decided which to submit in the contest.

“Even if we didn’t win the contest I knew we’d have had an experience about it. In a way winning this is more like the cherry on top. We already won by having that experience with [all] the kids,” Cueto says.

You can watch the video here:

The Recipe for Success contest challenged groups of two to four kids in Grades 4 to 6 to create the most outrageous, nutrition and delicious sandwich and share it on video to win. It was organized by The Winnipeg Foundation and supported by Red River College (RRC)’s School of Hospitality and Culinary Arts.

According to Wrap of Awesomeness team member Miranda Quill, working together during the competition was the best part.

“It was fun watching people rush around in our Top Chef challenge and everyone was so excited but everyone was nervous at the same time,” says the 11-year-old. “Everyone was so happy, we felt that we gave each other advice to keep going and it was really fun.”

The contest may have been fun, but it also taught students valuable life skills, Cueto says.

“Our school is trying to give them the life skills. With the demographic we’ve got, it’s a lot easier to buy instant food that you just put into the microwave.”

Strathcona School is located on McKenzie Street in Winnipeg’s North End.

“Healthy eating has to come with fresh produce and stuff like that. And the skill of cooking, they’re at the age where they have to have the understanding of being independent and having proper choices,” Cueto adds.

The Wrap of Awesomeness consists of roasted pine nuts, broiled zucchini, tomatoes, spinach and curry-flavoured hummus in a whole wheat wrap.

“We tried different ingredients and they just didn’t fit right,” Quill says of developing the final recipe.

If you think toasted pine nuts and curry-flavoured hummus reflect a refined palate, you’re right – and it took a little effort to get students to that level of culinary sophistication.

“Originally I told them to come up with a recipe and they came up with something quite simple, like bread and cheese because that’s the extent of what they think is healthy,” Cueto says.

As a result, he held class discussions about healthy eating and turned the contest into “more of an inquiry-based activity.”

“They went on the Internet, and I gave them some samples of [creative sandwiches], for example breadless sandwiches. I wanted them to think outside the box.”

Next the students went grocery shopping.

“It’s good exposure for them to look at [real] food and not go for microwaveable food,” Cueto says. “Coming up with something like curry-flavoured hummus, coming up with pine nuts; it’s [turning] something conceptual they [researched] from the Internet to something concrete that’s actually buying pine nuts. They had never seen pine nuts before.”

Participating in the Recipe for Success contest allowed Cueto’s class to cover a variety of curricula above and beyond the healthy food aspects.

“When kids are working with media like filmmaking, you’re incorporating so much learning opportunity… They’re writing up their recipes, they’re writing up a script, they’re doing story boards, then they’re going to film it and edit it. They have to work with each other – sometimes they don’t like each other, but they have to come up and finish all these things.”

As the Grand Prize winners, Cueto’s class receives a $500 grant to support healthy food at their school, the winning teammates get a Junior Master Chef Culinary Adventure at RRC’s School of Hospitality and Culinary Arts, plus the Wrap of Awesomeness will be featured at RRC’s Culinary Exchange restaurant.

“It was amazing,” teammate Quill says of winning the Grand Prize. “I thought there were a lot of other videos that were great, but to be picked was really awesome.”

A panel of judges deemed the Wrap of Awesomeness to be the Grand Prize Winner of the 56 contest entries. More than 3,500 votes were cast during the public voting phase to determine the People’s Choice winner.

Other winners included:

  • Runner-Up: Mulvey Mouthful by Mulvey School
  • People’s Choice: Maple Bacon “Kimcheese” Sandwich by École Van Walleghem School
  • Wild Card: Picnic Sandwich by École Lacerte
  • Wild Card: BLT Mega by Polson School

The Runner Up and People’s Choice teams each also receive a $500 grant, and all winning teams get to participate in the Junior Master Chef Culinary Adventure.

The contest was held in support of The Winnipeg Foundation’s Nourishing Potential Fund, which helps children and youth in after-school, drop-in and summer programs access the healthy food, nutrition education and cooking skills needed to grow and thrive.

Cueto believe the contest is great for the community.

“The Winnipeg Foundation is trying to invest in these kids, and [it’s] the whole idea that it takes a village to raise a child.”

For more information about the Recipe for Success contest, click here.

For more information about Nourishing Potential, click here.

Stacy Cardigan Smith


Communications Specialist with The Winnipeg Foundation, Community News Commons Editor, mom of two, health enthusiast, West End resident, cat lover and generally cheery gal.