Lawton student named semifinalist in cooking competition

(Source: KSWO)
(Source: KSWO)

LAWTON, OK (KSWO) - A fifth grader in Lawton is one of the top five semifinalists in the National Future Chefs challenge.

Pioneer Park 5th grader Julissa Rocha co-won the local competition last month with her Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps and Tofu Caprese Skewers.

Rocha said she's been cooking the meal over and over the past three weeks getting ready for the competition and that hard work has paid off. More than 2,600 elementary students submitted recipes for the competition. She and 255 other students made it past the local round. From there, it was narrowed down to 40 students and then top five. Her dad gave her the news that she was in the semi-finals and vying for the top spot.

"I was kinda shocked and I was also happy," Rocha said.

She almost didn't make it this far: at the local competition, officials mixed up the winners and she didn't find out that she was named a co-winner until the next day.

Rocha's been cooking with her parents for a while now and says she does it for one main reason.

"I like the end results after you're done," Rocha said. "It's yummy!"

When it came to what she wanted to make for the competition, the lettuce wraps met her criteria.

"It's easy, it's delicious, and it's easy to make," she said.

Her parents said they're proud of her and the hard work she's put into the dish. Even though she's eaten this dish more times than she can count, it's still her favorite meal.

"I'm not that tired of it," Rocha said. "I could probably eat it a lot more."

She's is happy to have made it this far but asks for your vote next week to help her earn the top spot. She and the other semi-finalist made a video of them cooking their dishes that people can vote for starting this Monday.

Copyright 2018 KSWO. All rights reserved.