Francis Howell North Competes in the 13th Annual Iron Chef Competition

They have four dishes and only two and half hours to make them. Five chefs rush to get it all done. They have been preparing for this since September. 

A healthy mix of confidence and nerves is spread throughout the group as the first whistle blows. The team spreads out across the kitchen and begins cooking. The students may be nervous, but team coach and culinary teacher Rebecca Just is confident in her chefs. 

 “I knew they would do well,” Just said. 

After being canceled in the two previous years due to COVID-19, the 13th Annual Iron Chef competition was finally able to happen on Nov. 15 at Francis Howell High School. This cooking event featured a group of students from each of the four high schools in the district fighting for the Iron Chef Champion title.

This year’s team included chefs Audrey Wright, Xavier Mitchell, Janiah Like, Austin Bitter, Anthony Guerrero, table setter Sydney Gronemeier and dishwasher Cassie Hodgkins. They were led by Just. 

Half an hour in. The whistle blows. Everyone has to stop. There is an injury. 

“I’m a little mad,” Wright said. “I was in the zone”

Senior Audrey Wright checks on the cupcakes in the oven and reacts to the heat.

 Sportsmanship from all schools was shown in the competition when a student chef from Francis Howell High School cut her finger and everyone stopped. Worry crossed many faces, they wanted to know if she was okay. It may have disrupted some of the cooking, but the students were given back the missing time at the end of the competition. 

“It was alarming because I wasn’t sure how bad the injury was, especially for the fact that there was a whole bunch of people helping the person out,” Mitchell said. 

A lot of things weren’t ideal during the competition. Outlets weren’t working and the fryers kept turning off, the kitchen was crowded and they were lacking stove space. The team was forced to troubleshoot throughout the night.

“We’re never going to get this finished,” Just said. “Utter chaos, frustration, a lot of things, just a lot of things.”

The final whistle. The chefs are told to stop. Now it’s time for the plating and judging. Each team would be judged on their food, attention to theme, teamwork and table setting. 

“I felt slightly nervous only due to the fact that we were so prepared and just completely finished that,” Mitchell said. “I felt like we’re forgetting something. I just had this slight feeling, you know, in the back of my mind, but that was just me overthinking”

A long line was formed from the FHN table. People came back and asked if they could have seconds. The answer was no. Despite making a hundred

A community member grabs food from the Francis Howell North table.

of everything, FHN had run out of food. 

“It was good that we ran out of food because that means a lot of people liked it,” Mitchell said. “But I was also disappointed because more people couldn’t try it”

The Knights gather around their table. Now is the time that they find out who won the competition. 

4th place. Francis Howell Central

Some stress is relieved. 

3rd place. Francis Howell Union

Now it’s between North and Howell High.

2nd place.…

The cheering and hugs start.

1st place. 

Francis Howell North has won the 2022 Iron Chef Competition.

“I felt as though no matter what, I do think that that was our best run we’ve ever had,” Mitchell said. “We were 100% there. Nobody truly ever faltered. Not saying that it was perfect, but mistakes were at a minimum.”

Their hard work and weekly meetings paid off in the end. Despite all of the challenges thrown their way, they won the competition.

“I’m just super proud of them and loved working with them,” Just said. “And I hope they got a lot out of it.”