From the left, Tony Yates, local OSU extension agricultural educator, and Sequoyah County 4-H culinary team members Faith Cude, Gabriel Cude and Katlynn Seal are shown with Cherokee Casino and Hotel Roland buffet chef Fabian Laster and food and beverage manager Justin Choate.
Cherokee Casino and Hotel Roland buffet chef Fabian Laster is helping three 4-H students dig through bins of fresh fruits and vegetables, cheeses and precisely cut meats looking for the perfect combination.
The chef volunteered to help prepare the girls for the national 4-H Food Showdown.
The youth are heading to the Texas State Fair on Oct. 4 to compete in the national culinary competition after winning at both the regional and state level showdowns.
Sophomore sisters and Cherokee Nation citizens Faith Cude, 14, and Gabriel Cude, 15, make up two-thirds of the award-winning Sequoyah County 4-H culinary team. They are the daughters of Archie and Sherri Cude and are currently homeschooled in Muldrow. Katlynn Seal, the 17-year-old daughter of Harlan and Angela, is a junior at Gans High School and is the unspoken group leader.
The national 4-H Food Showdown takes three members who have previously won at the regional and state levels. The teams are asked to create a dish while demonstrating their knowledge in food and nutrition, kitchen safety, equipment and creativity in food preparation. Teams must create their dish using only one clue, provided secret ingredients and items from the common pantry. From the secret ingredients, 4-H members must identify, prepare and then present information related to the serving size, nutritional value and cost of the dish.
“We’re all very excited. Eighty percent of the competition is presentation, so Chef Fabian will help them tremendously,” said Tony Yates, local OSU extension agricultural educator. “I can tell he’s excited to help out, too. I know the girls are very thankful for his being here.”
Classically trained at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Chef Laster’s career in the kitchen actually began in the Navy in 1987.
“There’s just something about food. Many people can take the very same ingredients and create vastly different results,” said Laster. “That’s what I hope the girls take to their competition. I want them to find their own, personal cooking style and make it shine.”
The Cudes and Seal were presented with a knife set to take on their journey to nationals, sponsored by Bryan Warner, Cherokee Nation Tribal Councilor from District 6.
Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director
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