The Uncle Ben's Brand, "America's number one rice brand" known for its parboiled and microwaveable products, has entered the competitive culinary world with the Ben's Beginners™ Cooking Contest. This nationwide contest was part of an initiative by the company to encourage "children to make healthier meal choices by getting them interested in cooking at an early age" according to the press release.
The contest recently announced five grand prize winners of which one was Pembroke Pines resident and Franklin Academy Charter School student Cai Killings. Cai, a personable 8 year old, was one of 25 finalists selected from hundreds of entrants who submitted a video of themselves and their families preparing a rice-based dish for this contest, now in its third year. Cai's selection as one of the five grand prize winners won his school a $30,000 school cafeteria makeover, a hometown celebration with celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson and a $15,000 cash prize.
In Cai's video entry you can tell from his proud mom Shavon Killings, that the future chef is a welcome help in the kitchen.
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"We're so excited to have been chosen," said Mrs. Killings. "Cai is an aspiring chef and he jumps at every opportunity to help out in the kitchen. This contest has been a wonderful experience for him and our entire family. It's fueled Cai's passion and allowed us to meet so many new people in our community who have shown support for what he's doing."
A big part of the contest is showing youngsters the benefits of a balanced meal as well as encouraging a family meal time - sadly an aspect of life that has fallen off the wayside with many families balancing work schedules that are not always conducive to dinnertime together. Say what you will about the deterioration of the American family in the modern era all you want but it is an undeniable truth how important this simple event can be to the overall wellbeing of not only the family, but the community at large.
At least Cai, or as he's better known, "Kid Chef" Cai understands it best as he says on his website, "I'm eight years old and I love to cook! I want to be famous when I grow up. The thing that I like most about cooking is that it brings my family together. Cooking is a time for us to have fun and enjoy each other while making delicious meals."
You can already tell that his mom appreciates the help and that the likable young man will go far. You can also tell that his father Cedric and his brother Cadrien are thoroughly enjoying the fringe benefits of having a chef at home.