Lite 98.7 was proud to be involved with the 2018 United Way Youth Cooking Challenge, underwritten by MVP Health Care. It proved to be an exciting event that gave kids a sense of purpose and taught them some skills they might utilize personally and maybe even professionally for the rest of their lives.

The competition paired children with professional chefs and they worked as teams to create signature dishes to be judged by a panel of Central New York celebrities. The two final teams were chosen online as Mohawk Valley voters watched videos and went to a virtual ballot box.

The final cook-off was staged at Restaurant Equipment Equipment Corp. in the New Hartford Shopping Center. The two finalists, both 11, were Olivia Cofano, who teamed with Michael Latreille of Michael's Fine Foods and Spirits (above photo) and Jonathan Kormeyer, who was partnered with Victor Ramirez of Madison Bistro (below).

Three celebrity judges, Jillian Ducato of Fortus Healthcare Resources/Primary Urgent Care, Sonia Martinez of the Mohawk Valley Latino Association, and Bill Vinci of The Empire Plate had a tough decision, but settled on Junior Chef Olivia Cofano and Professional Chef Michael as the winner.

The winner received a grand prize cooking themed basket valued at $250. The runner-up received a cooking themed prize basket valued at $150. All contestants received a healthy teen cookbook written by teen winner of Master Chef Junior.

Aside from MVP Health Care, this event was also made possible thanks to sponsors Capitol Arts Complex, Restaurant Equipment Equipment Corp., Townsquare Media, Primary Urgent Care, CNY Labor Council, Hannaford Supermarkets, MVCC Professional Association, Utica First Insurance Company, and United Way Board of Directors.

Here are the two finalists' videos, with descriptions of their signature dishes:

You can catch a quick recap of the whole finale by visiting the United Way of the Valley and Greater Utica Area’s Facebook page.

BONUS VIDEO: